Two men who were competing in a Wisconsin Ironman 70.3 triathlon over the weekend both sadly died in what officials are calling a “tragic coincidence.”
Todd Mahoney and Michael McCulloch died on Sunday while competing in the swim portion of the three-part race, according to the Madison Fire Department, who treated the athletes during the “separate emergencies.”
Mahoney, 38, an apparatus engineer with the Madison Fire Department, and McCulloch, 61, a longtime director of Meat, Deli, and Bakery at Certco Inc., were rescued from Lake Monona by fire officials and transported to SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.
Fire officials said McCulloch was pronounced dead at the local hospital, but Mahoney, who was rescued at 8:52 a.m., remained in critical condition and “fought for his life over the next 48 hours” until Tuesday when he sadly passed away.
Their bodies were later identified by the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office, who have been conducting forensic autopsies since Monday.
In a press release obtained by PEOPLE, the medical examiner said McCulloch’s death “was consistent with an accidental drowning due in part to a medical event.” Results from Mahoney’s autopsy have not yet been announced.
Additional testing is currently being performed by the medical examiner and both their deaths remain under investigation by Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office.
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The Ironman 70.3 is a three-part race that includes a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. Sunday’s event in Madison kicked off at 7 a.m. and was scheduled to wind down with an awards ceremony by 4 p.m., according to their website.
Shortly after news of the men’s deaths, race officials issued a statement on Sunday where they reiterated the importance of their competitors’ safety and well-being.
“The well-being of our competitors is paramount and we are grateful for the effort and quick support of medical personnel,” Ironman said in a statement, obtained by WKOW.
“We will continue to work with the local authorities to gather all the details on these incidents and will continue to do everything possible to provide a safe environment for our athletes,” race officials continued. “In respect of the families and athletes privacy, we will have no further comment at this time.”
Ironman tells PEOPLE in a statement, “During the swim portion of Sunday’s IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin, two race participants required medical assistance in separate and unrelated incidents that resulted in their transport to a nearby Madison hospital where they later passed away.”
“The entire IRONMAN team and community are profoundly saddened by the passing of both athletes,” the statement continues. “We mourn with their families and friends whom we will continue to support.
“We are thankful for the quick action taken by medical personnel on race day and remain committed to working with the local authorities in providing the safest environment possible for our athletes,” Ironman adds.
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