Former Australian ironman champion Dean Mercer has died after crashing his car into a fence on the Gold Coast.
Dean Mercer, 47, a two-time winner of the national ironman title, crashed into a fence outside a Mermaid Waters shopping centre car park about 7am on Monday.
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said the crash was the result of a medical incident believed to be a heart attack.
He was in a critical condition from the crash on Makeri Street, near the Q Super Centre but died in hospital.
Mercer claimed the 1989 and 1995 ironman crowns at the Australian championships, an record-equalling five New South Wales state titles, two Test of the Toughest titles and the world Oceanman Series.
His family have been notified of the accident.
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Mercer grew up in the beachside town of Thirroul, north of Wollongong. He competed in the Nutri-Grain national ironman series from 1987 to 2010.
He was employed as a junior coach at Kurrawa beach on the Gold Coast.
Surf Life Saving Australian spokesman Ian Hanson labelled Mercer “a true champion in every sense of the word” with “the heart of Phar Lap”.
“No surf was too big, no opponent too tall as he tackled the biggest and the best in the business,” Mr Hanson said.
Social media users have paid tribute to Mercer, acknowledging his contribution surf life saving.
Health and Sport minister Greg Hunt labelled Mercer a "legend in and out of the water, on and off the beach."
"His contribution to surf life saving was enormous," he tweeted. "Vale."
Gold Coast sports writer Todd Balym said Mercer was his idol.
"Stunned to hear about Dean Mercer," he tweeted.
"An absolute champion & idol for many years. Gutted for him, his family & surf community. Huge loss."
The two-time Australian champion married Gold Coast ironwoman champion Reen Corbett. They have four children.