Heroic teens pulled drowning man from sea in Bournemouth on same day as two children died

4 June 2023, 13:52

Kaiden Andre was one of two teens who jumped into the water to save a drowning man
Kaiden Andre was one of two teens who jumped into the water to save a drowning man. Picture: Jody Andre/Getty

By Kit Heren

Two heroic teenagers leapt into the sea in Bournemouth to save a drowning man they had spotted - on the same day that two other children died after getting into trouble in the water.

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Iona Hunter, 15, and Kaiden Andre, 14, were both at the beach on Wednesday, when they saw the man in the water and dived in to help him.

Iona said: "The man was struggling, so me and Kaiden both put his weight on our shoulders to help keep him afloat. I wasn’t really feeling anything at that point — I was just thinking about trying to get him back to shore.

"He was heavy . . . he had inhaled lots of water," she told the Sunday Times.

They eventually got him back to the shore, where he received medical attention.

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Kaiden Andre
Kaiden Andre. Picture: Jody Andre

Kaiden's mother Jody said: "It was my first time letting Kaiden go with his friends because we travel to Branksome every summer.

She told the Bournemouth Echo: "I was a bit dubious about letting him go at first because it’s very busy, but he’s mature so I trusted he would be fine."

“Kaiden said to me he has never known the sea to be that choppy.

"There was no jumping off the pier, no speeding boats, he just saw this young guy in trouble and went to help."

Read more: 'Angel' girl, 12, who died after incident off Bournemouth beach named as hundreds pay respects at funeral

Read more: Sick onlookers filmed medics as they tried to revive Bournemouth victims - as police urge people not to share footage

A police officer looks out over Bournemouth beach
A police officer looks out over Bournemouth beach. Picture: Alamy

Kaiden and Iona's heroics came on the same day that a 12-year-old girl, Sunnah Khan, and an unnamed 17-year-old boy, died after getting into trouble in the sea off the same beach. The two did not know each other.

Sunnah, who was from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, died in hospital after an incident in the sea off Bournemouth beach on Wednesday afternoon.

The circumstances of the two teenagers' deaths remain unclear. Eight other people were treated by paramedics at the scene.

Sunnah's family paid tribute to her as "an absolute force of nature" adding that she was "liked by all and loved by so many".

Police are investigating the Dorset Belle, a pleasure boat, for potential links to their deaths. A man in his 40s - who was "on the water" at the time of the incident - was arrested and has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue, officers said.

Dorset Belle was impounded
Dorset Belle was impounded. Picture: Getty

The Dorset Belle, which can carry up to 80 guests, made several circuits in the waters off Bournemouth Pier on Wednesday, according to online tracker MarineTraffic, including around the time of the incident.

Addressing the teens' deaths, Kaiden's mother Jody said: “When I saw my child get off the train back home, knowing that someone had lost their child, I cannot tell you how that felt.

"A police officer rang yesterday (Friday) and asked him all sorts of questions. They said he should class himself as a hero, which he doesn’t.“His instinct was just to help but it really did scare him. We can’t believe the bravery that he showed."

She added: "My thoughts are truly with the families who lost their children. Such a horrendous day."

Iona’s father Ross Hunter, a former lifeguard, told the Sunday Times: "I feel very proud of her. I think it’s very dangerous what she did, but that all being said, she is a very good swimmer, and I think it’s a testament to who she is.

"No one knows how they would react in that situation but she was governed by her heart."