Tragedy struck the Cleddau River in Haverfordwest, Wales, UK, towards the end of October 2021, when four people from a group of nine lost their lives whilst on a paddleboarding trip together.

Paul O’Dwyer, 42, from Port Talbot; Nicola Wheatley, 40, from Swansea; Morgan Rogers, 24, from Merthyr Tydfil; and Andrea Powell, 41, from Bridgend died after the group got into difficulties on a weir where the river runs through the centre of town.

What We Know

A yellow weather warning had come to an end on the morning of the incident, but flood alerts remained in place on Pembrokeshire rivers.

A call to emergency services was made at 9.02am stating a number of paddleboarders where in distress.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service had 30 firefighters at the scene, including swift water rescue technicians, to assist more than 20 police officers in the rescue effort. Coastguard teams and crews from two fire boats worked together in bank and river searches.

Despite a major incident declaration and the search and rescue mission being launched, tragically Mr O’Dwyer, Ms Wheatley and Ms Rogers were declared dead at the scene. The fourth person to lose their life, Ms Powell, was taken to Withybush Hospital but sadly died six days later.

The group of nine had come together from South Wales Paddle Boarders and Salty Dog Co. based in Port Talbot, for a weekend of paddleboarding that ultimately, ended in tragedy.

Police stated that the river was ‘high and fast’ on the tragic day.

Follow Up Investigation

Following the incident, a woman from the South Wales area was arrested on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter. She has since been released under investigation. The inquests are currently adjourned pending the outcome of the police investigation.

Main image by Martin Cavaney/Athena Pictures

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