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Kayaker drowned after capsizing in Ogwen river

What Happened
What Caused
Adverse environmental conditions
Casualty type/Qty
Causal Factors
Adverse current
Injury Details
Accident suspected

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Description of Incident
A KAYAKER drowned after he capsized in a fast-flowing river swollen by heavy rain. Ian William Walsh, 54, was thrown from his kayak while out paddling with friend Phil Davidson along the Ogwen river near Bethesda. Mr Walsh, a supply teacher of ICT and maths, had been a keen kayaker for many years and his passion had taken him all over the world. His devastated friend Phil Davidson told an inquest in Caernarfon that he’d known Mr Walsh since the mid 1980s and described him as an “excellent kayaker”. Mr Davidson said: “His prowess in a kayak was phenomenal.” Mr Davidson said they had both looked at the river before getting changed on the day of the tragedy on January 15. “The river was a bit high. It wasn’t a new river, we knew the lines down there. We both agreed: ‘Let’s get on with it’. We realised it was going to be a good trip. “I saw Ian capsize twice. It was a new kayak. We went down stream.” Breaking down, Mr Davidson, of Helsby, Cheshire, added: “He had not zipped his dry suit properly. He rolled over.” Mr Davidson said he himself also capsized three times. He said: “I saw Ian still in control and kayaking towards me. My head got battered, I was getting battered. He went down the river out of sight. I assumed he’d rolled over. I never saw a paddle or Ian or anything.” As planned, Mr Davidson returned to their car and waited for some 45 minutes for his friend. He said: “With just two of you, you are really on your own.” By coincidence, Samantha Lei Murphy, a member of Aberglaslyn Mountain Rescue trained in white water rescue, had gone down to the river for a walk with her boyfriend. Ms Murphy, of Dyffryn Ardudwy, said: “The river was running very high. I saw a hand coming into view. I knew that it was something in the river.” Her boyfriend called the police and he and Ms Murphy then bravely waded into the river to rescue Mr Walsh, from Preston, who had been carried at least two miles down the river. They were joined by a local farmer. But despite their best resuscitation efforts there were no signs of life. An RAF crew airlifted Mr Walsh to Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor. Ysbyty Gwynedd consultant pathologist Dr Mark Lord said Mr Walsh – “a fit man” – had suffered abrasions and injuries to his body and had died of drowning. North West Wales deputy coroner Nicola Jones said: “The river was in full flow and it had been raining heavily. There’s always a risk in this type of sport.” Recording a verdict of “misadventure”, Mrs Jones praised Ms Murphy and her boyfriend for bravely wading into the water to recover Mr Walsh’ body which otherwise could have been lost.
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Location of Incident

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