Widow wants answers in husband's triathlon death

by: John Bachman Updated:

Chris and Lisa Petty

COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A Cobb County widow is looking for answers after her seemingly healthy 43-year-old husband died this weekend at Jekyll Island during a triathlon.

She told Channel 2's John Bachman a number of minor safety missteps added up to a huge tragedy.

"We were each other's best friends. We did everything together," widow Lisa Petty said.

Lisa and Chris Petty got married about three years ago. They biked, swam and ran together. Chris Petty was in great shape.

"He was the most athletic and healthy person I have met," Lisa said.

The Pettys were both racing in the Turtle Crawl Triathlon at Jekyll Island Saturday. Lisa was on her bike when a neighbor told her to stop because there had been an accident.

"I had no idea that my husband was drowning and dying," Lisa said.

Chris died during the swim portion of the race.

"They kept postponing the race," Lisa said.

Petty said the water was choppy and rough.

"I can't imagine the fear going through my husband's mind just before his death," said Lisa.

Tropical storm Alberto was churning off shore. Bachman talked with racer Andra Syms, who was with Chris in a group of swimmers calling for help.

"A lady screamed, 'Somebody help him, he's under, he's under,'" Syms said.

Syms said the lifeguard got Petty onto the boat quickly and then swam off to help others caught in an apparent riptide. But, Syms said no one on the boat knew CPR or had a radio to call to get crews ready on shore.

"My husband died prematurely, but if his death saves somebody else because they put safety precautions in these races, I know my husband would feel proud," Lisa said.

Bachman sent an email to Setup Events, a big triathlon event producer out of South Carolina, which organized the race, but has not heard back from the company.

The race was a USA Triathlon-sanctioned event, so there are safety standards that should have been in place.

They sent Bachman an email stating they will get a report from Setup Events and make sure all requirements were met.


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