SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Wealthy U.S. businessman and environmental activist Douglas Tompkins died Tuesday from severe hypothermia in a kayaking accident, Chilean authorities said.
The Aysten health service said the 72-year-old Tompkins, who was a co-founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing companies, was boating with five other foreigners when their kayaks capsized in a lake in the Patagonia region of southern Chile. Tompkins died in the intensive care unit of the hospital in Coyhaique, a town 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles) south of Santiago.
Chile's army said strong waves on General Carrerra Lake caused the group's kayaks to capsize. A military patrol boat rescued three of the boaters and a helicopter lifted out the other three, it said.
After retiring in 1989, Tompkins was active in conservation and environmentalism. He owned hundreds of thousands of hectares (acres) in Patagonia, a sparsely populated region of untamed rivers and other natural beauty that straddles southern Chile and Argentina. On his Chilean land, he created Pumalin Park, 290,000 hectares (716,606 acres) of forest, lakes and fjords stretching from the Andes to the Pacific.
Tompkins was one of the founders of The North Face, an activewear company that is now owned by VF Corp. of Greensboro, North Carolina. He also founded, with his wife, the Esprit clothing company.