Three people who died after getting into trouble while paddling on a river in Wales have been identified by police as friends and family paid tribute.
Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed that the victims of the incident on Cleddau river this weekend was Morgan Rogers, 24, of Cefin Coed, Merthyr Tydfil; Nicola Wheatley, 40, of Pontardulais, Swansea, and Paul O’Dwyer, 42, of Sandfields, Port Talbot.
Emergency services received reports of nine people in distress on the river in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, shortly after noon. 9 Saturday.
A huge search and rescue operation was launched, involving dozens of firefighters, police officers, doctors and other experts.
Heavy rain meant the river was flooded and had become turbulent as the group got into difficulties.
The trio died in the incident while another woman was found critically injured. She remains in the hospital in a serious condition.
Five more people were pulled out of the river by the emergency services but were not injured.
The group was from the South Wales Paddle Boarders and Salty Dog Co, an organization based in Port Talbot.
They came from different areas of South Wales and were on an annual trip where they spent the weekend together exploring the river.
Sir. O’Dwyer, who worked for Salty Dog Co – a surf-style clothing and paddleboarding company – was named as one of the victims on Saturday. The company tweeted a message saying “goodbye to our salty dog Paul”.
A tribute from his family released Monday said he “gave his life to save others”.
It read: “He was a devoted husband, father, son and brother. He dedicated his life to contributing to society in his many adventures in raising money for various purposes.
“Paul was a water baby. His passion for water started with Aberavon lifeguards from an early age.
“He was an Army Surfing Champion, British Army 7 a side rugby team member, Aberavon Green stars rugby player, ski instructor and completed several times in British and Welsh 3 top events.
His checklist also included the London Marathon, which ran a 100-mile race, several triathlons, including Ironman Wales and recently Stand Up Paddle-boarding 100 miles in 21 hours to raise money for heart screening in Port Talbot.
“We as a family are truly grateful for the kind messages sent to us in our time of great sorrow.”
One of those on the trip, Vickie Mckinven of Milford Haven, told the Press Association that Mr O’Dwyer died in an attempt to rescue two other paddleboarders who had gotten into trouble near the overflow.
The family of Morgan Rogers, who was deputy store manager in a supermarket, described her as “the best she could be”.
In a tribute, they said, “She will sadly be missed by her mother, father, Rhys, Harry, Holly and Katy.”
The family of Nicola Wheatley said she was “amazing in every way” and said her death “has left a void in our lives that will never be filled”.
Colleagues of Ms Wheatley, who worked in toxicology and began her career at Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital in London, said she was a “go to” person for organizing projects and campaigns.
In a tribute, they said: “Through her lovely personality, Nikki made many friends during her time in public service and will be greatly missed by her friends and colleagues at NPIS.
“Nikki is leaving her young family, husband and extended family. Our thoughts are with them in this terrible time.”