'Amazing in every way': Families' heartbreaking tributes to Wales paddle board victims

2 November 2021, 18:21 | Updated: 2 November 2021, 18:30

Morgan Rogers, Nicola Wheatley and Paul O’Dwyer.
Morgan Rogers, Nicola Wheatley and Paul O’Dwyer. Picture: Dyfed-Powys Police

The families of three people who died in a paddle boarding accident on a river in Wales today released heartbreaking tributes.

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Morgan Rogers, 24, from Cefin Coed, Merthyr Tydfil; Nicola Wheatley, 40, from Pontardulais, Swansea; and Paul O'Dwyer, 42, from Sandfields, Port Talbot, died in the incident on Saturday.

They were part of a group of nine people on a weekend exploring the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest.

One woman remains in hospital in a critical condition. A further five people were pulled out of the river by the emergency services but had no injuries.

The group were from the South Wales Paddle Boarders and Salty Dog Co, an organisation based in Port Talbot.

A statement from Ms Rogers' family, given to the PA news agency, said: "Morgan was a beautiful, kind and loving soul, beloved by all who have been touched by her warm smile and her caring personality.

Flowers left by the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest.
Flowers left by the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest. Picture: Alamy

"Morgan was never happier than when she was in the outdoors doing what she loved and spending time with her family. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends and all those she has known along the way. Morgan will always be in our hearts and our memories. We will miss her dearly."

Reports described Mr O'Dwyer as a former soldier and father-of-three.

One of those on the trip, Vickie Mckinven from Milford Haven, said Mr O'Dwyer died attempting to rescue two fellow paddleboarders who had got into difficulty near the weir.

A tribute from his family, issued through police, said he had "given his life to save others".

"He was a devoted husband, father, son and brother," a statement said.

"He devoted his life to contributing to society in his many adventures in raising money for different causes.

"Paul was a water baby. His passion for the water started with Aberavon lifeguards from an early age.

"His sporting prowess extended to many different sports. He was an army surfing champion, British Army seven-a-side rugby team member, Aberavon Green stars rugby player, ski instructor and completed multiple times in British and Welsh 3 peak events.

"His tick list also included the London Marathon, running a 100-mile race, numerous triathlons including Ironman Wales and recently Stand Up Paddle boarding 100 miles in 21 hours to raise money for heart screening in Port Talbot. Paul also helped to set up a charity Sa1ute to support veterans.

"We as a family are truly thankful for the kind messages sent to us in our time of great sadness."

Ms Wheatley, who worked as a specialist in poisons information with the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS), was described by her family as "loving mother, daughter, daughter-in-law and wife".

Her devastated family said in a police-issued statement: "Nicola was a beautiful, caring, considerate and funny person. She was amazing in every way.

"She has left a void in our lives that will never be filled.

"We would now like time to grieve and would ask to be given privacy in which to do so."

Det Ch Insp Jonathan Rees of Dyfed-Powys Police previously revealed the nine people got into difficulties after reaching the weir near Quay Street.

Anyone who may have information that could assist the investigation is asked to get in touch with the public portal.