man diving underwater
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
January 31, 2024 ·  3 min read

Father Left Paralyzed After Freak Cold Water Swim Accident

In a terrifying incident on New Year’s Eve, Dan Richards, a 35-year-old man, was left paralyzed from the neck down after an accident during a New Year’s swim at Langland Bay, Swansea.1 While enjoying a cold water dip, Dan’s life took an unexpected turn as a wave rotation caused the back of his head to hit the sand, resulting in a broken neck.

Paralyzed in the Water

Dan’s partner, Anna Thomas, her mother, Jayne Trew, and friend, Sharon Nicholson, were present at the scene.2 In the midst of the chilling waves, Dan, a keen surfer, dove in as he had done many times before. However, the way the wave was rotating led to a catastrophic impact, leaving Dan unable to feel his arms and legs. Even in a state of shock, he was able to focus on his breathing until he could call for help.3

Anna, Jayne, and Sharon’s quick response played a crucial role in saving Dan’s life. Despite being in the water and paralyzed, Dan communicated the severity of his condition. Passersby were alerted, and an ambulance was immediately called. A Swansea-based helicopter, delayed due to a prior call, was able to eventually airlift Dan to Bristol Southmead Hospital for life-saving treatment.

Dan Richards at the beach before the accident
On the beach before the accident. Image Credit: Jayne Trew | Wales Online

Dan underwent surgery for a C5 burst fracture and fractures to C4 and C6 of the spinal cord. Now in stable condition, he awaits transfer to a long-term rehabilitation facility at Morriston Hospital. His recovery remains uncertain, with mixed opinions from doctors about the extent of his potential recovery, but he fact that he may not remain paralyzed has family and community members optimistic.

Dan expressed his determination and positivity, stating, “I’m dealing with it one day at a time. They have started light rehab with me now here, and I’m first on the waiting list for Llandough, so as soon as a bed is available there they will be moving me for rehab“.

Dan Richards in hospital recovering
Dan is in the hospital recovering. Image Credit: Anna Thomas | Wales Online

Community Support: A Fundraiser for Hope

Becoming paralyzed is many things, including an expensive change. Facing substantial costs for rehabilitation, home adaptations, and travel, Dan’s family initiated a fundraiser with a £50,000 target. The overwhelming support from the community has already raised nearly £29,000, showing an outpouring of kindness and encouragement for Dan’s journey to recovery. If you would like to donate, here is the link.

Anna shared, “We’ve cried more about the Gofundme page than we have about the accident, because we’re trying to be so positive every day, and then there’s people’s kind words and messages coming through, some whom you’ve never even met, and it means the world to us“.

As the community rallies around Dan and his family, the road to recovery remains uncertain. Yet, the unwavering support and positivity serve as beacons of hope in the face of this unforeseen tragedy.

Read More: Woman Suffers Second Degree Chemical Burn from Wild Parsnip


  1. Man left paralysed in freak accident during New Year’s Eve cold water dip.” Mirror. January 27, 2024.
  2. Man left paralysed from neck down after freak accident during cold water dip.” Wales Online. Robert Dalling. January 27, 2024.
  3. Dad paralysed from neck down after freak accident during cold water dip.” Daily Record. Robert and Kaitlin Easton. January 27, 2024.