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.