Mission Trails Park

Body Recovered at Mission Trails Regional Park is Missing 21-Year-Old Runner: Family

“It’s a tragic blow for us, for his family, for his friends, and also for what he will not get to do, which would’ve made just a wonderful life-affirming difference in the world."

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The body of missing runner, Max Lenail, was recovered Saturday after friends organized an extensive search at Mission Trails Regional Park, family confirms to NBC 7.

"Early this afternoon (Saturday) hikers located a body in the water in the Mission Trails Regional Park. With the assistance of San Diego Fire-Rescue and San Diego Lifeguards, the body was recovered," The San Diego Police Department said in a tweet.

Ben Lenail confirmed to NBC 7 that the body found was that of his son. Although, confirmation by the San Diego Medical Examiner is still pending.

“Sometimes we wondered if he was sort of an angel because he was so wholesome and he was an amazing peacemaker and mediator and he brought incredible comfort to everyone that he touched,” Ben Lenail said.

Ben Lenail said his son was going to graduate pre-med from Brown University in May and planned to go to grad school to study medicine.

Ben and Max Lenail. Credit: Ben Lenail

Max Lenail, 21, was reported missing on Friday when he didn’t return from a running trip at Mission Trails Park. Friends said he was an experienced hiker and gathered Saturday morning for a search they put together through Facebook.

SDPD, volunteers with the San Diego Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue, and people who did not know Max Lenail combed Mission Trails for hours.

“My wife Laurie, his mom, and I are so grateful that people came out” Ben Lenail said.

Later in the afternoon, hikers made a discovery by the swollen river that runs through the park.

“My understanding is that it was another hiker that first found the person's body in the water,” said SDPD Lt. Daniel Hall. “Those that may be familiar with the hiking area know that it’s very popular, a lot of trails are going in and out of that area, and rocky terrain.”

Mission Trails Regional Park has 60 miles of trails with rugged hills, valleys and open areas. It is located only eight miles northeast of downtown San Diego.

Ben Lenail said it is his son’s beautiful life he and his wife will remember. He'll Treasure his accomplishments --yet mourn all he could have been.

“It’s a tragic blow for us, for his family, for his friends, and also for what he will not get to do, which would’ve made just a wonderful life-affirming difference in the world,” Ben Lenail said.

The cause of death has not yet been released.

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