Heartbreak as young father-of-one, 21, dies after jumping in river to save his dog

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Ryan Wells was walking his three dogs along the River Weaver in Northwich with girlfriend Georgia Garnett and her brother Ray in the early hours of March 28, 2020. Mr Wells, 21, leapt into the water after one of his dogs jumped over a low fence and into the river at about 4.40am.

The inquest heard that Mr Wells had been in the water just a few seconds before he began to panic.

In a statement read in court, Ms Garnett said: “He was looking around and couldn’t catch his breath.”

Ms Garnett, seeing her partner struggling in the water, leapt into the river in a brave attempt to save him.

She could see his head just under the surface at the time she jumped in, the court heard.

His arms had been “floundering” but were moving a lot less before she entered the water.

Ms Garnett shouted for her brother to call the police.

But she got into trouble. Her brother tied the three dogs’ leads together and threw an end out to her.

She grabbed the makeshift lifeline and held on in the icy water until the emergency services arrived.


Ms Garnett was helped out of the river and taken to hospital. The dog was also rescued.

Sadly, Mr Wells disappeared under the water and was found dead later that day.

At an inquest held in Warrington on Wednesday, it was confirmed Mr Wells had not drowned, but suffered a cardiac arrest after entering the cold water.

Assistant coroner Jean Harkin recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

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A statement from Ms Garnett was read out in court. In it, she explained the three had been struggling to sleep so decided to go for a walk with their dogs at about 3.30am.

Ms Garnett’s brother said Mr Wells was not far from his girlfriend when she went into the water.

But the court heard he soon disappeared from sight.

Police confirmed that they searched the river throughout the morning and into the early afternoon.

A post-mortem report confirmed there were no signs Ryan died as a result of drowning. The pathologist concluded that the cause of death was 1A cardiac ‘due to sudden immersion in cold water’.

Recording her conclusion of misadventure, Ms Harkin said: “It’s clear from the evidence that Ryan went into the water to save his dog.

“He had no thought for himself and dived right into the water.

“To her credit, Georgia, seeing Ryan in difficulty, jumped right into the water to try and save him.”

Ms Harkin is quoted in CheshireLive as saying: “Ray saw from the ground, by shining a torch, that Ryan was not far from Georgia but soon he disappeared from view.

“The police attended, paramedics attended, with a helicopter and a police boat, all searching for Ryan. He was eventually found but sadly he was found deceased.”

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