A “FIT and healthy” newly-wed husband died as he played a computer game in his lounge.
Incredibly Ryan Matthews, 36, was struck down by the same heart condition that killed a boyfriend of his wife, Karen, nine years previously.
Karen, 31, left her husband playing Call of Duty on his Xbox games console at their home in Bedminster Down so she could have a bath.
Half an hour later, after he failed to answer her, she went downstairs to find him lying face down, having suffered a catastrophic heart attack as a result of left ventricular hypertrophy.
Despite the best efforts of her neighbours and paramedics, who battled to save him for two hours, he died at the scene.
Karen has spoken of her loss to raise awareness about the condition, which in October 2003 also claimed the life of her long-term boyfriend James Gray, 24.
James had been playing football in a Somerset FA Challenge Cup match in Bath when he collapsed. Karen and he had been dating for six years and moved in together just a week before.
She told The Post: “I think I must be the most unlucky woman alive. I definitely feel like I am jinxed.
“I am still living in disbelief – I feel like (Ryan) is at a stag do or something and will suddenly walk in through the door. This does not seem like my life – it just seems crazy. It seems ridiculous that it could happen twice.
“I miss him terribly, the house is so quiet.”
Karen had married Ryan last August at Tracy Park Golf and Country Hotel in Wick, having met him in Bristol in December 2004.
Ryan died in the lounge of their Illchester Crescent home on the day he had originally wanted to marry, as he had liked the idea of their wedding date being 20/12/2012.
“We had been married less than four months,” Karen said.
“That night he was fine and was playing on his Xbox. He had eaten his and most of my dinner because he was hungry.
“I got in a bath at around 8.30pm and after I finished, I shouted to say the bathroom was free.
“I got no response so just thought he was engrossed in his game. I went downstairs and he was face down on the sofa.
“He was just lifeless and I rang 999 and was hysterical.
“They told me I had to lie him on his back but I couldn’t get him off the sofa, because he is 6ft 2in and probably weighs around 16 stone.
“I raced round to my neighbours and they rushed in and pulled him off the sofa. The husband performed CPR on him for about 10 minutes while we waited for the ambulance.
“The ambulance service came and they tried to resuscitate him but in my heart I knew he was gone, but they were amazing and just kept on trying to save him.”
Both Ryan and Karen’s parents, and Ryan’s sister Carly, live nearby and a neighbour rushed to fetch them.
“There were so many people there trying to help, my house had never been so busy,” said Karen.
The death shocked Ryan’s family and friends who knew him as a fit and healthy young man, who worked hard as a broadband engineer for Virgin Media.
“He would go to the gym three or four times a week and would go bike riding,” said Karen, who is a senior meetings and events co-ordinator at The Bristol Hotel.
“He was very fit and healthy and worked very hard so none of it makes any sense.”
Karen continues to try and make sense of the tragedy but says friends and family have helped her to cope.
“I have amazing friends and family around me and I keep myself very busy,” she said.
“He had left a present under the Christmas tree for me so opening that was very emotional.”
Such was Ryan’s popularity that between 400 and 500 people attended his funeral at South Bristol Crematorium on January 7.
Karen said: “I have never seen so many people, it was very touching. Ryan was very popular and very loyal.
“Afterwards we all went for a drink at The Cross Hands pub where Ryan and his friends went for a ‘boys only’ night on a Wednesday.”
Ryan’s friends including Pete Muscat and Jon Hill have organised ‘Ride for Ryan’ with a large group of people riding from Weymouth to Bristol in his memory on March 30.
It will be followed by a family fun day at the Cross Hands pub in Bedminster Down, with live music, a bouncy castle, face painting, balloon modelling, a hog roast and a raffle with many incredible prizes.
The group hope to raise thousands of pounds for the British Heart Foundation.
Visit www.ride4ryan.net for more information.