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Arlington man dies during Ironman triathlon in Texas

“His positive energy, love for his family, and drive to harness all that life could offer is truly irreplaceable."

An Arlington man who was competing in an Ironman triathlon in Texas died Sunday during the race, the Galveston County Daily News reports.

Daniel Winkler passed away after being found unconscious and not breathing during the swim portion of the annual Memorial Hermann IRONMAN 70.3 in Galveston, Texas, according to the newspaper. He was 46. 

After being found facedown in Offatts Bayou around 8:30 a.m. on April 3, the Massachusetts resident was rushed to an ambulance on shore and transported to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead, the Daily News reported. 

In a Facebook post that did not name Winkler, race organizers said swim safety personnel recognized the athlete was in need of assistance.

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“We share our greatest sympathies with the family and friends of the athlete and will continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time,” reads the post. “We thank the swim safety personnel and first responders who worked quickly to provide the athlete with medical support.”

Galveston Island Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis told the Daily News that it’s normal for beach patrol to rescue about 40 people during the swim portion of the race and that a small number are taken to the hospital every year.

The Galveston Ironman triathlon is made up of a 1.2-mile swim in the bay at Moody Gardens, a 56-mile bike course along the Texas Gulf Coast, and a 13.1-mile run through Moody Gardens.

Davis told the Daily News that the water was about 68 degrees and choppy during the race and that Winkler was wearing a wetsuit.

According to the Boston Globe, Winkler was found about halfway through the swim portion of the course. Rescuers immediately started CPR and he was pronounced dead around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

John Florence, chief investigator with the office of the county medical examiner, told the newspaper that as of Monday the cause of Winkler’s death remained pending, though he said “it doesn’t appear to be drowning at this time.”

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Winkler leaves behind his wife, Regan, and their two daughters, ages 6 and 8, according to the Globe. The 46-year-old was vice president of software engineering at 6 River Systems, a company that develops technology to facilitate warehouse operations, in Waltham. 

According to a LinkedIn page in his name, the New Orleans-area native graduated from Northeastern University in 1999.

“We are in shock and trying to comprehend Dan’s death,” his family said in a statement to the Globe. “His positive energy, love for his family, and drive to harness all that life could offer is truly irreplaceable. We want him remembered for his life: his big hugs, infectious laugh, and radiant smile. He made everyone feel like family and he will be missed by countless friends, family, and coworkers.”

Co-founder and co-chief executive of 6 River Systems Ryan Hamilton told the newspaper Winkler was one of the company’s first employees.

“He accelerated the trajectory of the company and his enthusiasm was infectious,” Hamilton said in a statement obtained by the Globe. “Dan was a rare force in this world, and just as kind as he was brilliant. We will miss him dearly and our thoughts are with his family.”

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