Man who disappeared kayaking in Juneau may have filmed his own demise via Go-Pro camera

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Alaska State Troopers say a man who went missing while kayaking on July 11 may have captured his own drowning on video.

The disappearance of Paul Rodriguez Jr., a 43-year-old resident of Juneau, has new clues, thanks to a Go-Pro camera that had footage on it.

After his disappearance on July 11, a kayak with a dry bag attached was found unoccupied in Mendenhall Lake near the Mendenhall Glacier. A concerned individual reported towing the kayak to shore after observing no signs of distress or anyone nearby. Alaska State Troopers took possession of the items, as there were no identifying markings on the kayak.

On the evening of July 16, Troopers received a report from the Juneau Police Department that Rodriguez’ vehicle was found in the parking lot of the Mendenhall Visitors Center, not far from the lake. U.S. Forest Service employees said it had been parked there since July 11. Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Juneau Mountain Rescue, and SEADOGS were promptly mobilized, along with a chartered helicopter for an aerial search.

During the search, a crucial piece of evidence emerged when someone described by Troopers as a “good Samaritan,” found a helmet with a Go-Pro camera attached. Examination confirmed that the helmet belonged to Paul Rodriguez Jr.

The footage on the camera revealed that Rodriguez had drowned on July 11 after his kayak overturned, plunging him into the icy waters of Mendenhall Lake, which is fed by the Mendenhall Glacier, in an area where the current was strong near Nugget Falls.

According to authorities, Rodriguez’s failure to wear a personal flotation device and appropriate protective clothing for glacial water sports may have contributed to his fate. The video review suggests that he was not prepared for the conditions he encountered.

His body has yet to be recovered, but next of kin have been notified, Troopers said.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve seen this sort of stuff in SE all the time. People who aren’t experienced enough try kayaking into places where bad things happen.

    I’ve seen lone kayakers in the middle of the Lynn Canal, the Tracy Arm, and chugging up Icy Strait.

    Add in people going for social media footage…bad things happen.

  2. Stories like this just make me so sad. These incidences happen all over the state. Streams are cold and many fast moving with sweepers, strainer or logjams. Lakes can turn from placid and easy to whitecaps and dangerous in the blink of an eye, when the wind kicks up. We have seen folks out in kayaks on Portage lake, in summer dresses and flip flops without a PFD, while there were still mini icebergs floating down from the glacier. Many underestimate the power of water.

  3. As a lifelong sea kayaker, preparation saves lives. Maybe this fellow didn’t have training. He sure as hell should have. A PFD obviously. Staying close to shore, being fit and don’t fuck up. It s all in the manual.

  4. He was a younger man guiding himself in life and obviously trying to make a good life for himself that kept himself out of trouble. And, going kayaking is how our men should be spending their leisure time. Been better if he had a small group of guys of various ages whose all are friends too had gone out paddling. The older friends would had chance to share from experience and acquired wisdom how to be safer. Which is why you older men must learn how to mentor the younger men to guide them making better and safer decisions. It’s the same for older woman establishing a friendship with younger women to mentor and guide them through life while they are living it. Small group men’s Bible studies, men’s breakfast or men’s dinner, New Life’s Every man’s battle small group, or men’s recovery group are good starts to get the guys together for relearning how to be a friend. You know Anne Graham lotz? Well when her husband (Danny lotz)had cancer and undergoing his care for it, his bible study men’s group and friends come to help him and Anne. They took him out, helped Anne out by transporting him to and from medical sppts because of the cancer and treatment make him weak that Anne would had needed someone stronger than her to help him move about cause if she do it all be herself there was greater chance he’d lose his balence and fall on her. That’s what the small groups mentioned provide a chance to make long lasting friendship and fellowship especially while you needed the comfort, companionship, and mentorship the most.

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