North Face co-founder Doug Tompkins, 72, dies after kayaking accident

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North Face Co-Founder Dies In Kayaking Accident

Doug Tompkins, the co-founder of outerwear company The North Face, has died following a kayaking accident in Chile, according to a division of that country's Ministry of Health. He was 72 years old.

The conservationist and outdoorsman was kayaking on the General Carrera Lake in Chile with a group of people when he and five others were tossed into the water.

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North Face co-founder Doug Tompkins, 72, dies after kayaking accident
TO GO WITH AFP STORY US billionaire Douglas Tompkins talks in his property in Ibera, near Carlos Pellegrini in Corrientes Province, Argentina, on November 5, 2009. The founder of the clothing brand North Face, Tompkins, converted into ecology activist and committed to the vastness of the marshes in the heart of the province of Corrientes, the scene of a 'green war' with the farmers. AFP PHOTO/DANIEL GARCIA --- MORE PICTURES IN IMAGE FORUM (Photo credit should read DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
American business tycoon and environmentalist Douglas Tompkins has stirred controversy in Chile by buying hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness in the country and shielding them from development. He is also blocking the construction of proposed hydroelectric dams that government officials say Chile+=s growing economy needs. (Photo by Helen Hughes/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
American business tycoon and environmentalist Douglas Tompkins has stirred controversy in Chile by buying hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness in the country and shielding them from development. He is also blocking the construction of proposed hydroelectric dams that government officials say Chile+=s growing economy needs. (Photo by Helen Hughes/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY US billionaire Douglas Tompkins talks in his property in Ibera, near Carlos Pellegrini in Corrientes Province, Argentina, on November 5, 2009. The founder of the clothing brand North Face, Tompkins, converted into ecology activist and committed to the vastness of the marshes in the heart of the province of Corrientes, the scene of a 'green war' with the farmers. AFP PHOTO/DANIEL GARCIA (Photo credit should read DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY US billionaire Douglas Tompkins poses in his property in Ibera, near Carlos Pellegrini in Corrientes Province, Argentina, on November 5, 2009. The founder of the clothing brand North Face, Tompkins, converted into ecology activist and committed to the vastness of the marshes in the heart of the province of Corrientes, the scene of a 'green war' with the farmers. AFP PHOTO/DANIEL GARCIA --- MORE PICTURES IN IMAGE FORUM (Photo credit should read DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this July 7, 1997, file photo, American millionaire Douglas Tompkins, left, and Juan Villarzu, chief of staff of the Chilean president, hold the text of an accord signed in Santiago, Chile. Officials in Chile said Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, that the wealthy U.S. businessman and environmental activist has died from severe hypothermia in a kayaking accident. (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin, File)
SANTIAGO, CHILE: Chilean President Ricardo Lagos (L) shakes hands with US businessman Douglas Tompkins 09 December, 2003 at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago. Tompkins, considerated as one of the biggest landowners in Chile got the approval from the government Tuesday to create an echologic park in southern Chile. AFP PHOTO/Victor ROJAS (Photo credit should read VICTOR ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Servicio de Salud Aysen, a branch of the Ministry of Health, said Tompkins died of severe hypothermia after being admitted into Coyhaique Regional Hospital with a body temperature of 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the normal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius).

Though three of the other kayakers made it safely to land, Tompkins and two others remained in the water for an hour until officials from the Chilean Navy arrived to rescue them, according to news reports. Tompkins was transported by helicopter to the hospital.

"In these extremely serious cases of hypothermia, survival is very rare," Carlos Salazar, director of the hospital's emergency unit, told Chilean news site EMOL.

Jorge Tarud, a Chilean politician who oversees the district that General Carrera Lake is in, offered his condolences to the Tompkins family.

Tompkins also co-founded clothing company Esprit, but left the business world in 1989 and dedicated himself to conservationist efforts. In the early 1990s, he began buying land in Chile, in hopes of preserving it, though his efforts were criticized by local environmentalists who feared the possibility of ulterior motives.

Just last month, Tompkins was interviewed by Outside Magazine, which called him the "21st century Teddy Roosevelt."

The North Face has not immediately responded to Mashable's request for comment.

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