A FIREFIGHTER who died in a crash between two boats during a training exercise in Wales has been named as a dad-of-two from the local fire station.
Josh Gardenner, 35, was named locally as the firefighter killed in Milford Haven yesterday.
Pals have paid tribute to the devoted dad with a “beaming smile” who was described as “shining light” and “beautiful soul”.
Teams of firemen were riding on high-speed inflatable dinghies when two crashed into each other on the River Cleddau opposite the Pembroke to Rosslare ferry terminal.
People whose houses overlook the waterway said police, helicopters and coastguards were on the scene in minutes.
Locals said a fireman died in the accident after being thrown out of a rigid inflatable boat.
Josh had only been working at the Mid & West Fire & Rescue Service for nine months and said on Facebook he hoped it would a “long and exciting career” – before it was tragically cut short.
Colleagues changed their Facebook profile pictures to a black image with a red line through it, signalling they lost someone from the service.
One wrote: “Lost a bro today, totally gutted.”
Another wrote: “A young Firefighter from my station (Milford Haven) has tragically died whilst on duty. Such a terrible loss of a great guy.”
A fellow Firefighter wrote: “Right in the middle of us all, where you’ll always stay Josh Gardener we all love you to bits our 14 weeks wouldn’t have been the same without your s*** cups of tea and beaming smile. We’ll miss you always.”
One wrote on Facebook: “You have those mates that are always smiling never negative and a joy to know and be around. Josh was just that, a beautiful soul and a shining light.
“I’m devastated by the news of his passing and my heart goes out to his kids and all in his closer circle. I’m proud to have known such a lovely genuine dude.”
Another pal said: “I am also remembering the anniversary of my Dad’s death but I also want to remember josh gardener who tragically died yesterday. Another lovely man taken far too soon.”
One friend wrote: “You were the best friend a man could ask for, the best father a child could ask for and the best human the world could and will ever produce.
“A man that never put himself first and did nothing but care for others. You always said you were the angel on my shoulder and I was the devil on yours. I love you brother and always will xxx”
One added: “Heart breaking mate. Josh was the ultimate all rounder. Funny, happy and the soundest of the sound. He will be missed massively by everyone who knew him.”
The avid hiker had recently shared he climbed 893m to the summit of the Cadair Idris mountain, and in July he reached the summit of Snowdon.
‘A HEARTBREAKING CASE’
An Fire Brigades Union spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of our brother in Wales, who tragically died carrying out routine training for water rescue. Our heartfelt condolences go to his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.
“Firefighters risk their lives daily to keep people safe; they prepare and train for all eventualities, and in this heartbreaking case, a colleague and friend has lost his life in this endeavour.
“No worker should ever die whilst fulfilling their role. We will be investigating the causes and circumstances of this death to ensure that lessons are learnt. The FBU will do all it can to support the bereaved family.”
A spokesman for the nearby marina said: “The Fire Brigade were carrying out a training exercise on the water when something went wrong.
“The conditions were good at the time and it’s a very safe stretch of water.
“The two inflatable boats involved have been towed ashore to be examined.”
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesman said: “We can confirm a 35 year old male lost his life during the incident, in which two boats collided.
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“Next of kin are in the process of being informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
“We have informed the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and will be working with them to establish what happened on the water today.
“Our thoughts go out to the family of the deceased and to his colleagues at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.”
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