The shock of entering the cold water of the River Dee killed a football fanatic as he tried to swim across, an inquest heard.
Richard John Williams – known as Ricky – had to be dragged out of the water by friends who tried desperately to revive him.
The air ambulance landed nearby and paramedics continued with resuscitation but it was all in vain.
A post-mortem examination revealed that 31-year-old Mr Williams, of Plas Isaf, Rhosymedre, near Wrexham, did not drown but instead suffered a cardiac arrest with disease in one of the cardiac arteries a contributory factor.
The inquest in Ruthin heard how Mr Williams, a night care practitioner at the Chirk Court care home in Chirk, went with a group of friends to Ty Mawr country park near Newbridge on April 23 and paddled in the river as they had done many times before.
His friend Merit Stewart said he was a good swimmer and the current was not particularly strong in that section of the river.
“Rick walked in to get used to the cold water and then swam across to the other bank,” she said.
Another friend, James Fagan, who also swam across, said he noticed Rick on his knees and appeared to be “messing about” but then realised he was in difficulty.
Friends and passers-by applied CPR until the paramedics arrived.
Recording a conclusion of accidental death, John Gittins, coroner for North Wales East and Central, said: “He was doing something he had done many times.”
The effort and shock of the cold water put an extra strain on his heart, however, causing a cardiac arrest.
Mr Williams was a goalkeeper with Wrexham Disability (DSA) FC and in June this year was meant to be going to Belfast to play in the George Best Disability Cup.
He was regarded as a member of the family by Ms Stewart, her partner Wayne Greenshields and their four children.
At the time of his death Mr Greenshields said: “Rick was so family orientated, he packed more into his life than any other people would in twice the time, and he will leave a huge hole in our lives,” he said.
Carl Austin, manager of DSA, described Rick as “a one-off with a heart of gold who would do anything for anyone”.
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