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Ex-soldier and two paddleboarders die after he tries to rescue them


Ex-soldier and two paddleboarders die after he tries to rescue them

A father of three died after trying to save two struggling paddleboarders in south-west Wales on Saturday, in an “absolutely heartbreaking” incident.

Paul O’Dwyer died along with two female paddleboarders he was trying to help. A third woman was reported to be in a critical condition.

O’Dwyer, 42, a former soldier, jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue two women in distress, but was later pronounced dead on the banks of the River Cleddau in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

“Paul put his own life on the line yesterday to make sure others were safe,” said a spokesperson for Aberavon Green Stars RFC, a rugby club O’Dwyer belonged to.

The club paid tribute to O’Dwyer’s “infectious smile” and upbeat character, describing him as an “avid adventurer, whether he would be paddleboarding, surfing, skiing, walking or climbing, nothing was too small for Paul to achieve”.

A group of nine paddleboarders were exploring the river on a weekend excursion when they got into difficulty near a weir. Dyfed-Powys police said they received reports of persons in distress shortly after 9am on Saturday.

Emergency services – including 30 firefighters, the coastguard, RNLI and police helicopters – arrived at the scene and five people were rescued without injury.

But O’Dwyer and two women lost their lives and another woman was being treated in intensive care at a local hospital on Sunday.

O’Dwyer died “attempting to save two of the girls also in distress due to an unexpected downpour”, said Vickie Mckinven, who was on the trip but pulled out of the morning paddleboard over weather concerns.

It is “absolutely heartbreaking”, Mckinven said, adding that O’Dwyer “did so much to raise money for charities”.

O’Dwyer cofounded charity SA1UTE, which supports veterans in south Wales, and previously was a soldier with the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers 108 Welsh Squadron militia.

“He was relentless in his drive for raising money for charity,” SA1UTE said in a tribute to O’Dwyer, adding: “We have lost a friend that gave so much of his life to help others. It still hasn’t sunk in, that these tragic events have taken away someone in the prime of their life.

“Paul had a real zest for life and always took things head on with a smile on his face.”

O’Dwyer helped raise more than £4,000 for charity in recent weeks by paddling down the River Wye in 24 hours, navigating the 100 miles from Glasbury to Tintern Abbey. He also organised an event in September that raised more than £2,000 for the RNLI and a local lifeguard club.

Dyfed-Powys police said the victims’ next of kin were being supported by specialist officers.

DCI Jonathan Rees said police were investigating what provoked the tragedy, and called on the public to report any information or submit potential video footage.

“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,” DCI Rees said.

DCI Rees urged the public – with paddleboarding growing in popularity – to “ensure they understand the weather conditions and water conditions at a particular location where they may be enjoying that sport”.

Salty Dog Co, a watersports clothing shop based in Port Talbot that was involved in the excursion, paid tribute to O’Dwyer.

“It is with heavy heart that we say goodbye to our salty dog Paul,” Salty Dog tweeted on Saturday.

“A lovely human being taken too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with your friends and family. You will be missed greatly.”

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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Emir of Ilorin commiserates with Saraki over mother’s death

Nigeria in very bad shape, only PDP can rebuild it —Saraki

Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has commiserated with a former Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki, over the death of his mother, Mrs Florence Saraki.

This is contained in a condolence message issued by the emir’s Spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Wednesday in Ilorin.

Mrs Saraki died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

Sulu-Gambari described the deceased as a wonderful mother, great philanthropist and virtuous wife to  Dr Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin, whose contributions to humanity would forever be remembered.

According to him, the deceased lived a fulfilled life, with numerous accomplishments.

The royal father urged Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, and his siblings to be strong in heart over the demise of their beloved mother.

Sulu-Gambari, who is also the Chairman of Kwara Traditional Rulers’ Council, extended his condolences to both the immediate and extended family members of the Saraki dynasty.

“I pray that Almighty Allah grants the family and friends the fortitude to bear the great loss,” he said.

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