North Face mogul and environmental activist Doug Tompkins died on Tuesday after suffering severe hypothermia when his kayak capsized on southern Chile’s Lake General Carrera, reported FoxNews.
Tompkins, 72, was the only one of a group of six kayakers who remained hospitalized in Coyhaique, some 1,500 kilometers (800 miles) from Santiago, after being rescued along with his companions in a Chilean navy operation involving boats and helicopters, authorities said.
The other kayakers are all in good condition, but Tompkins’ age was a factor in his death, hospital sources said.
While three of the group, which also included Mexicans and Chileans, were able to make it to land, Tompkins stayed into the water until the Chilean Navy was able to make a rescue.
Doug Tompkins is shown in 2009 with wife Kris, who served for 20 years as CEO of Patagonia.
He was flown to the Coyhaique Regional Hospital but later died after spending time in the water around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
“In these extremely serious cases of hypothermia, survival is very rare,” Carlos Salazar, the hospital’s director of the emergency unit, told the EMOL news site, Backpacker reported.
Tompkins had been admitted to the hospital at about 1:30 p.m. with a body temperature of just 19 C (66 F) and extensive resuscitation measures had to be performed upon him. Even so, the hospital’s urgent care director, Dr. Carlos Salazar, told Bio Bio radio that people who suffer extreme hypothermia only “occasionally” survive.
When Tompkins’ body temperature rose to 22.5 C (72 F) he was moved to the intensive care unit, and doctors said that if his temperature were to reach 30 C (86 F) they would be able to issue a prognosis, but he died about 6:30 p.m.
The information was confirmed by Melitina Acuña, the district attorney for the lakeside town of Chico, who is in charge of the accident investigation.
Tompkins was the founder of Berkeley, California-based outdoor outfitter The North Face and the co-founder, with wife Susie, of apparel maker Esprit.
The couple had purchased thousands of hectares (acres) in Argentine and Chilean Patagonia to make into nature reserves.
In Chile, Tompkins had opened to visitors some of those lands, including Pumalin Park, although on the condition that the area is not used for ends that are at odds with the conservation of its ecosystems.