'Heartbreaking': Three people die after paddleboarders get into trouble in river

31 October 2021, 10:40 | Updated: 31 October 2021, 17:53

The air ambulance was tasked to help the rescue efforts
The air ambulance was tasked to help the rescue efforts. Picture: Alamy/Google

By Will Taylor

Three people have died and one is in a critical condition after a group of paddleboarders got into trouble in South Wales.

Police said the incident took place on a river in Haverfordwest.

Two women and a man died at the scene, while another woman was taken to Withybush Hospital.

Five people were rescued from the water and did not have injuries.

Emergency services rushed to the River Cleddau on Saturday, searching for people in the water as severe rain caused it to become turbulent and flood.

A member of the public is thought to have also gone into the river to help the group and managed to get out safely.

The Quay Street part of the town was cordoned off for hours as the search took place.

The group of nine people came from different parts of South Wales and were on an annual tour, exploring the river together over the weekend.

Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Rees said: "Dyfed-Powys Police received reports of people in distress in the Cleddau River in Haverfordwest shortly after 9am on Saturday, October 30.

DCI Rees said the group of nine got into trouble at a weir, although circumstances of the incident are still unclear.

He confirmed two women and one man died in the incident, and another woman is in a critical condition in hospital.

DCI Rees said: "My thoughts and the thoughts of my colleagues are with the families of those who lost loved ones."

"I would like to particularly thank members of the community who assisted emergency services."

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear of the deaths on the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest.

"My thoughts are with the families and friends who have lost loved ones in this heartbreaking tragedy.

"Thank you to the emergency services and everyone who tried to assist with the rescue efforts."

Vickie Mckinven, from Milford Haven, said she had become concerned with the weather and decided against paddling on Saturday morning.

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"Absolutely heartbreaking, was all good friends. And did so much to raise money for charities," she said of her group.

Thomas Tudor, councillor for the town's Castle Ward, called the incident a "terrible tragedy".

Councillor Lyndon Frayling said: "They were on the river. It's such a turbulent river when it's in flood."

Stephen Crabb, Welsh Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said on Saturday: "Horrific incident in Haverfordwest this afternoon.

"Thoughts with all involved and the emergency services responding."

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The names of the group have not been released by Dyfed-Powys Police, but their next of kin are being supported by officers. An investigation has been launched.

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

Thirty firefighters from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service helped with the rescue, with two fire boats being dispatched to assist with searching the bank and river.

The Coastguard, National Police Air Service, Wales Air Ambulance and Angle RNLI were also tasked.

Several ambulances were sent and more than 20 police officers arrived.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police by calling 101 or using the major incident portal on the force's website.