Hero ex-soldier dad died after jumping in river trying to rescue paddleboarders

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An ex-soldier and father-of-three was killed after trying to save two women who got into distress in the water in a paddleboarding accident.

It has been claimed Paul O’Dwyer, 42, jumped into the Cleddau river in Pembrokeshire, Wales, to try to save the lives of two others.

He tragically lost his life along with two women, while one other remains in critical condition in the ICU of Withybush Hospital.

Emergency services pulled five other uninjured people out of the river on Saturday.

Paddleboarder Vickie Mckinven, from Milford Haven, was part of the group and claims Mr O'Dwyer was trying to save "two girls" following an unexpected downpour.

Speaking to the Mirror, she said: "Absolutely heartbreaking, was all good friends.

"And did so much to raise money for charities."

There was a group of nine people in total on the river, from the South Wales Paddle Boarders and Salty Dog Co, an organisation based in Port Talbot.

Mr O'Dwyer, from Port Talbot, was a former soldier with The Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers 108 Welsh Squadron militia and was an avid fundraiser for charity.

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According to WalesOnline, he also founded an armed forces charity called Sa1ute, which helps support veterans.

Friend and business partner Lee West said: "I had only messaged Paul yesterday about meeting up to talk about charity plans after lockdown. It's hard to believe that I will not now ever get a reply from him or go on our crazy adventures.

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"Paul enjoyed SUPing (stand-up paddle-boarding) and had been on an instructors' course and was going along on that excursion. He was physically fit – he'd done an Ironman and he was a former lifeguard, so he was a very good swimmer. He was just a genuinely lovely, lovely man."

Just over a week before the incident, Mr O'Dwyer had raised over £4,000 during a 24-hour paddle boarding marathon to raise money for Heart Screening in Wales to detect heart abnormalities early.

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In 2016, Mr O'Dwyer and his friend Lee raised awareness of homelessness by sleeping rough while cycling from Swansea to London.

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police said: "Three people have died and one remains in hospital following a multi-agency river rescue in Pembrokeshire yesterday.

"Dyfed-Powys Police received reports of people in distress in the Cleddau River in Haverfordwest shortly after 9am on Saturday, October 30.

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"A group of nine adults from the South Wales area had travelled to Pembrokeshire for a paddle-boarding excursion.

"The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated, but it is believed that the group got into difficulty in the water.

"Sadly two women and a man died at the scene, and a woman remains in a critical condition in hospital.

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"Next of kin are being supported by specialist Family Liaison Officers."

Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Rees said a full investigation is already underway.

A spokesman for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said: "A team of inspectors from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch has deployed to Haverfordwest to undertake a preliminary assessment of the accident, working in co-operation with other agencies.

"The aim of the MAIB’s preliminary assessment is to help with determining the way forward."

  • British Army
  • Family

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