Preliminary autopsy results out on Ironman triathlete, sister of victim remembers triathlete

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by WHAS11

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 29, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 29 at 6:43 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)- It was his first triathlon and Mark Wezka, 46, was, according to his sister, Sue Richardson, in the best shape of his life. Now, she is planning his funeral.

Wezka died during the swimming portion of the Ironman Triathlon Sunday. According to deputy coroner Jo-Ann Farmer, his death is consistent with a drowning complicated by underlying heart disease.

Farmer said Wezka had been swimming in the Ohio for less than 10 minutes when competitors began yelling for help. The rescue boat reached Wezka by 7:22 a.m. and began CPR. By 8:05 a.m. he was pronounced dead at University Hospital. He never regained consciousness.

Richardson, along with several nieces and nephews, cheered the New York father of two as he dove into the river.

"I didn't have any sense that there was going to be a problem. The way he went in and the way he was on the dock he was waving to us. He was pumped up for the event," said Richardson.  "He was worried about the swim just because he did feel he was prepared but he's always been afraid of water. So he said you know I can have a good swim, I come out and the rest of the event I can manage without any problems."

While Richardson knew her brother took medication for hypertension. She said she considers the tragedy a freak accident and feels he received adequate care.

"We knew he had high blood pressure and had been taking medication for that. We were surprised by the enlarged heart. We didn't know he had an underlying condition like that," Richardson said.

Richardson said Wezka had been training for the Ironman since January, and before that had only been in a 5K race.

"Regardless of what happened, it doesn't change the outcome. It was just a freak thing that happened. We have that loss that can never be reversed," Richardson said.

The final autopsy results and cause of death could take up to four weeks to complete.

The Ironman competition consisted of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile marathon.

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