Haverfordwest paddleboarders: Tributes to three victims who died in river

Morgan Rogers, 24, from Cefin Coed, Merthyr Tydfil; Nicola Wheatley, 40, from Pontardulais, Swansea and Paul O’Dwyer, 42, from Sandfields, Port Talbot.
Paul O'Dwyer, Nicola Wheatley and Morgan Rogers died following the trip to the River Cleddau Credit: Family Photos

Police have named the three victims who lost their lives in a paddleboarding trip on a river in West Wales.

Paul O'Dwyer, Nicola Wheatley and Morgan Rogers were part of a group of nine people on a weekend trip exploring the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest

They belonged to South Wales Paddle Boarders and Salty Dog Co, an organisation based in Port Talbot.

Another woman is still critically ill in hospital

A further five people were pulled out of the river by the emergency services but had no injuries.

Miss Rogers was a deputy store manager at a supermarket.

A statement from Miss Rogers’ family, said: “Morgan was a beautiful, kind and loving soul, beloved by all who have been touched by her warm smile and her caring personality.

“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. Morgan was the best that she could be. She will be sadly missed by her mother, father, Rhys, Harry, Holly and Katy”

Morgan Rogers Credit: Family of Morgan Rogers/PA

The family of 40 year old Nicola Wheatley from Pontardulais paid tribute,

“We are devastated by our loss. Nicola was a loving mother, daughter, daughter-in-law and wife.   

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.” 

Nicola Wheatley was from Pontarddulais Credit: Family Photo

More tributes have been released by the family of 42 year old Paul O'Dwyer who was reported as one of the victims earlier this week.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Paul O'Dwyer aged 42, who gave his life to save others. 

He was a devoted husband, father, son and brother. 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 7 aside 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.”

Paul O'Dwyer was described by his friend as a ''force to be reckoned with." Credit: Josh Chuggy

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.

Ms Mckinven said she had pulled out of the morning paddle because she was concerned about the weather conditions.

In a statement read outside Haverfordwest Police Station, Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Rees of Dyfed-Powys Police said the nine people got into difficulties after reaching the weir near Quay Street.

Mr Rees said: “Dyfed-Powys Police received reports of persons in distress to Cleddau river in Haverfordwest shortly after 9am on Saturday October 30.

“A group of nine adults from the South Wales area had travelled to Pembrokeshire for a paddleboarding excursion yet had got into difficulties at the weir adjacent to Quay Street.

“A significant operation, a rescue operation, was commenced involving resources from Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Wales Ambulance Service Trust, Dyfed-Powys Police, the coastguard and the RNLI.

“Search activity was assisted by helicopters. The exact circumstances of the incident are being thoroughly investigated.

Flowers left by the river Cleddau in Haverfordwest Credit: Bronwen Weatherby/PA

“At this stage, my thoughts and the thoughts of my colleagues are with the family of those who lost loved ones, and of the injured person who remains in hospital.

“Paddleboarding is a growing leisure pursuit and we would encourage those engaging in the activity to ensure they understand the weather conditions and water conditions at a particular location where they may be enjoying that sport.”