Canadian man dies during Texas Ironman event. His widow wants answers as to why

Click to play video: 'Montreal widow seeking answers after husband died in Texas triathlon'
Montreal widow seeking answers after husband died in Texas triathlon
WATCH: The widow of a Quebec man who died doing a triathlon in Texas earlier this month is looking for answers. She is perplexed as to how her healthy 50-year-old husband could end up dying suddenly. Global's Gloria Henriquez reports – Apr 24, 2024

The widow of a Quebec man who died in a triathlon in the United States is desperate to know how her healthy 49-year-old husband could pass away so suddenly.

As she recovers from the shock of losing her husband of 29 years, Jean-François Alain, she is holding on to family memories such as skiing and hiking trips.

Veronique Tremblay says, “It was impossible, he was in the best shape of his life ever. He was so proud and so thrilled about that event.”

The event she is referring to is a half triathlon known as the IRONMAN 70.3 Texas triathlon.

Alain, an experienced runner, enrolled in the competition in preparation for a bigger triathlon that was to be a celebration of his upcoming 50th birthday.

But Alain would never cross the finish line.

Story continues below advertisement

“The Sunday morning on April 7th, I got the call from the U.S.,” Tremblay said. “They said ‘It’s about Jean-Francois. He’s in critical condition. He had cardiac discomfort during the swim’,” Tremblay recounts.

The latest health and medical news emailed to you every Sunday.

Tremblay says she immediately jumped on a plane to Texas. A few hours later, her husband was in such poor condition that he took his last breath, leaving their two boys behind.

“They didn’t have the chance to see their father for the last time,” Tremblay said.

Tremblay says she is perplexed as to how a man who was in his prime and had recently received a clean bill of health from his doctor could have deteriorated so fast.

She has hired a lawyer to help her push for answers from the organizer.

“It is vital that we have a full understanding of what happened that day,” said Will Moye, the attorney representing the family. “What we do know is that a race of this magnitude should have infrastructure in place to quickly respond to any emergency.”

Ironman told Global News in a statement: “Swim safety personnel recognized a distressed athlete requiring medical attention approximately 950m into the swim. The athlete was attended to quickly and provided immediate medical care before being transported to a nearby hospital where they sadly passed.”

Story continues below advertisement

“They faced challenge in the rescue so in the terms of timing…that’s the details we are waiting for,” Tremblay said.

‘Rare occurrence’

A study conducted by a team of Duke University researchers shows that some people can develop a condition called swimming-induced pulmonary edema while swimming.

Pulmonary edema is a condition in which lungs fill up with fluid, interfering with a person’s ability to breathe normally.

Dr. Richard Moon co-authored the study. He is an anesthesiologist, pulmonologist and specialist in diving and hyperbaric medicine at Duke University.

“It’s rare. It is more common among people who are working very hard in the water,” Dr. Moon said. “Amongst triathletes who tend to bit a bit older than 20s, often in their 40s and 50s, about 2 per cent of those individuals have them.”

Dr. Moon says the condition isn’t totally understood but some pre-existing conditions can predispose one to it, including high blood pressure and silent coronary artery or valve diseases.

As for Tremblay, she says she wants to have answers in writing from the organizers so they can be held accountable if need be.

Her goal is for no other family to lose a loved one if it can be prevented.


Sponsored content