Waves from 'vessel' may have caused deaths of girl, 12, and boy, 17 at Bournemouth beach

1 June 2023, 13:02 | Updated: 1 June 2023, 13:59

A man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after two children died on a Bournemouth beach
A man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after two children died on a Bournemouth beach. Picture: Twitter/@buhalis

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By Chay Quinn

Police have said no pier-jumping or jet-skis were involved in the tragedy in Bournemouth which left two children dead and eight others in need of medical treatment.

It comes after local online speculation about the causes of the incident - as police confirmed that an investigation into the deaths of two unrelated children was underway.

A boy, 17, from Southampton and a girl, 12, from Buckinghamshire died in hospital after getting into difficulty in the water.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell of Dorset Police said today: "I can also confirm there is no suggestion of people jumping from the pier - or jet skis being involved.

There was “no physical contact between a vessel and any of the swimmers at the time of the incident," she added.

Farrell also thanked emergency services and members of the public who helped with the incident.

The boy, 17, and the girl, 12, were rushed to hospital following the incident
The boy, 17, and the girl, 12, were rushed to hospital following the incident. Picture: Twitter/@buhalis

Dorset Police said a man in his 40s, who was on the water at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

It comes after emergency services attended a "major incident" earlier on Wednesday.

Eeman Qamar, from Southampton, was on the beach and described lifeguards telling people to clear the beach, saying there had been a major incident at around 4pm on Wednesday.

"After about 20 minutes, the first air ambulance arrived and landed right in the middle of the beach," she said.

Police released a statement on Thursday: "Early investigation indicates that there was no physical contact between a vessel and any swimmers at the time of the incident.

"We are investigating the circumstances that caused a number of swimmers to get into difficulty.Further information will be released as the investigation progresses."

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Dorset Police are working alongside the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to establish what happened.

Police said at around 4.30pm they received a report from paramedics of people needing assistance on the beach off Bournemouth Pier.

Ten people were recovered from the water, though a boy, 17, and a girl, 12, had sustained critical injuries.

They were airlifted to hospital but later died, the force said.

Their families have been informed.

The other eight people were treated non-life-threatening injuries at the scene.

Beachgoer Kathryn Walton described seeing lifeguards and "loads of people rushing on to the beach" as part of the operation to find the tragic pair.

Photos posted by onlookers on social media showed helicopters landing on the beach and a number of emergency service vehicles.

A spokesperson for South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) said it sent multiple teams to the scene, including six double-crewed ambulances, two air ambulances, a hazardous area response team, and a critical care car.

The service said it searched the water to make sure no one else was missing and was "satisfied there are not".

Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan, of Dorset Police, said: "Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the young people who tragically died and we are doing all we can to support their families.

"I understand the beach was very busy at the time of the incident and I would ask anyone with information that may assist our enquiries to please come forward.

Photos posted by onlookers on social media showed helicopters landing on the beach and a number of emergency service vehicles.
Photos posted by onlookers on social media showed helicopters landing on the beach and a number of emergency service vehicles. Picture: Twitter/@buhalis

"We are at the early stages of our investigation and would ask people not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident."

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns offered his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, writing on Twitter that the incident was a "salutary lesson that our beaches and ocean can give much pleasure but danger is ever present".

"A dreadful event in circumstances when they were enjoying beautiful weather in our town. So sad," he said.

"Thanks to the lifeguards and the Air Ambulance who we can take for granted."

Anyone with any information is being asked to contact Dorset Police via its website or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55230083818. Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously via its website or on freephone 0800 555 111.

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