Fund established to build a pedestrian bridge at river crossing in Mission Trails Regional Park

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Earlier this year on January 29, 2021, Max LeNail, a 21-year old pre-med student at Brown University and San Diego resident, died during a hike at Mission Trails Regional Park.

Max’s family said he was an avid hiker, runner, and experienced outdoorsman and mountaineer and drowned while because he was forced to make the difficult decision to cross the river to get back to safety as he was caught hiking in one of the worst hail storms San Diego County has seen in more than two decades.

Tomorrow, Friday, March 26–Max’s 22nd birthday–the LeNail/Yoler family will announce the launch of a restricted fund ( with the San Diego Foundation.

The goal of this fund will be to raise $2 million dollars to build an environmentally-responsible pedestrian span at the location of their son’s death in Mission Trails Regional Park with the hopes of it being operational by March 26, 2023, which is Max’s 24th birthday. The LeNail/Yoler family has donated $25,000 to kick off fundraising efforts.

“Max was an experienced runner, hiker, biker and climber,” said Max’s mother, Laurie Yoler.  “He was so happy to find such stunning, natural, outdoor beauty in the San Diego area.

When I visited Mission Trails two days after his death, I was shocked by how treacherous the River Crossing Trail was, even in calmer weather with a much lower river. As a mother, community-builder and problem-solver, I want to ensure this tragic loss never happens to any other family.

My family and I are asking the San Diego community and friends from around the world to join us in making this project a reality to honor Max and protect lives.”

Categories: Local San Diego News