Chile – Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of the outdoor product company The North Face and clothing retailer Esprit, died at age 72 after a kayak accident in Chile.

Tompkins died on Tuesday due to hypothermia after an accident in a kayak, while he was on an expedition with two other Americans in the waters of Lago Carrera in the Aysen region, at southern Chile. The accident happened when strong winds caused the overturning of two kayaks which were manned by six foreigners, who were rescued by the Chilean Navy barge.

Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of The North Face, died at age 72 of hypothermia, after a kayak accident. Credit:

A military patrol boat pulled three people from the lake, and a helicopter took three more. According to published reports, Tompkins was in the water for a “lengthy period” before being rescued. He was airlifted to a hospital in Coyhaique, where he died.

Tompkins started The North Face as a small ski and backpacking retail and mail-order shop in San Francisco, but after 20 years he left his business and settled in Chile to dig deep in the conservation of biodiversity and wildlife of the Patagonia.

Through the Conservation Land Trust, he bought and conserved more than 8,000 square kilometers of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, and worked to turn some of these lands into national parks. His last legacy would be the delivery of Pumalin Park for the Chilean state. This park covers almost 3,000 square kilometers of temperate rain forests, rivers and lakes from the Andes to the Pacific.

The man lived in the region for the past 25 years, working with Chile’s and Argentina’s governments seeking to create national parks and fighting hydroelectric dams’ plans that damage the wild rivers of the region.

“We are all deeply saddened by the news of Doug Tompkins’ passing. Doug was special to many of us. He was a passionate advocate for the environment, and his legacy of conservation is one that we hope to help continue in the work we do every day,” The North Face Company said in a statement, according to USA today.

Source: USA Today