02 November 2021

Family’s touching tribute to woman, 24, who died in Welsh paddleboarding accident

02 November 2021

A woman who died in a paddle boarding accident on a river in west Wales had a “beautiful, kind and loving soul”, her family have said.

Morgan Rogers, 24, from Cefin Coed, Merthyr Tydfil, was part of a group of nine people on a weekend exploring the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest

Miss Rogers, who was a deputy store manager at a supermarket, and two others died in the incident, which took place on Saturday, while another woman remains in hospital in a critical condition.

Dyfed–Powys Police confirmed on Tuesday the two other victims were Nicola Wheatley, 40, from Pontardulais, Swansea, and Paul O’Dwyer, 42, from Sandfields, Port Talbot.

Morgan was a beautiful, kind and loving soul, beloved by all who have been touched by her warm smile and her caring personality

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 Miss 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.

“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.”

She was a deputy store manager at a supermarket, her family said. (Family of Morgan Rogers/PA) (PA)

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.

Paul O’Dwyer, 42, from Sandfields, Port Talbot, also died during the incident. (Dyfed-Powys Police/PA) (PA)

“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.

The River Cleddau in Haverfordwest (Bronwen Weatherby/PA) (PA Wire)

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

Detective Chief Inspector 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.

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