This is a photo of Paul Jose Rodriguez Jr. shared by a friend who said he sent the photo to her the day he was reported missing on July 11. (Courtesy / JoAnna Pilapil)

This is a photo of Paul Jose Rodriguez Jr. shared by a friend who said he sent the photo to her the day he was reported missing on July 11. (Courtesy / JoAnna Pilapil)

Camera of missing man near Mendenhall Glacier discovered, reveals he drowned

Helmet with attached camera discovered during search.

This is a developing story.

A camera attached to a helmet that belonged to a man who had been missing since last Tuesday near the Mendenhall Glacier indicated that he drowned, according to the Alaska State Troopers. His next of kin has been notified.

Paul Jose Rodriguez Jr., 43, of Juneau was reported missing somewhere in the area of the Mendenhall Glacier on Tuesday, July 11, according to an information release by the Juneau Police Department issued Monday afternoon.

He was last seen kayaking toward the Mendenhall Glacier and his kayak was discovered floating without him on Mendenhall Lake, officials said.

“During the search, a good Samaritan turned over a helmet with a Go-Pro attached which was confirmed to have belonged to Paul Rodriguez. review of the Go-Pro video revealed the drowning death,” an AST press release issued Tuesday states. “Search and Rescue teams will continue to search the Lake for Paul’s remains as resources become available.”

A multi-agency search of the area, including by helicopter, took place earlier Monday after more details about Rodriguez’s absence became known Sunday evening. It was determined he drowned on July 11 after his kayak overturned into the glacial water.

Forest Service employees reported on Sunday evening that a car registered to Rodriguez was left in the parking lot of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center on July 11 and “saw a male, believed to be associated with the vehicle, walking towards the glacier wearing a t-shirt and carrying an ice axe and climbing helmet,” according to JPD.

“During the initial investigation, JPD learned that Rodriguez was last seen by his roommate on (July 10),” the department’s statement notes. “Friends reported that Rodriguez made a social media post on (July 11) that showed a kayak on a beach that appears to be near Nugget Falls by the Glacier.”

“It now has turned into a body recovery effort,” said Alisha Seward, incident commander for AST on Tuesday afternoon. Seward said the search for Rodriguez on the water was suspended at around 5 p.m. Monday. As of Tuesday, a ROV Underwater Robot, which is essential an underwater camera, is planned to be flown in Tuesday night and deployed early Wednesday morning.

AST is also considering the potential use of locally available sonar or underwater cameras if the equipment becomes available. Seward said if that happens, the recovery efforts could begin again Tuesday afternoon. If not, “the search will definitely be picked up first thing tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.”

“We’re still in the process of searching for him,” she said.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

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