Police search a pleasure boat after two children died in a major incident on an English beach.
In the half-term tragedy, a 17-year-old boy from Southampton and a 12-year-old girl from High Wycombe were killed after being pulled from the sea in Bournemouth on Wednesday afternoon. A man in his 40s, who was “on the water” at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, police said.
Eight other children, who had minor injuries and were treated by paramedics at the scene, were also rescued. It is not thought that the group all knew each other.
Forensic officers were seen aboard the Dorset Belle, which docked in a harbor in Poole on Thursday. The sun reported. A police source told the newspaper: “This ship is under a police cordon. No one is allowed to board or touch the ship.”
Local residents claimed the mysterious incident involved a jet ski and several were on the water nearby at the time, while others said those involved in the incident jumped off the pier – which is some 304 meters long – and were pulled further out by a tidal wave out to sea.
Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell told a press conference on Thursday that there was “no suggestion” of people jumping off Bournemouth pier and that there was no contact between a ship and the children.
Footage posted online shows at least one person being resuscitated after lifeguards rushed into the water east of the pier in the seaside town at 4:30pm on Wednesday.
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell urged people not to speculate about what happened and asked those with images or videos to share them with police rather than on social media.
Were you touched by this story? Please email email@example.com
Witnesses who were on the beach at the time of the incident reported seeing the body of a young man washed up on the beach.
Lifeguards pulled a girl from the sea next to the pier and saw CPR before she was airlifted to hospital.
Thousands of people were on the beach at the time, soaking up the sun and playing in the water amid the 23 degree heat during the May holiday.
Nicola Holton, 43, and Stuart Clark, 42, were with their two children as the tragedy unfolded and said the summer scene turned into something out of “a horror movie”.
Mr Clark said: “As we walked to the east side of the pier there was at least one but probably a few jet skiers crossing the right side of the pier.
“We didn’t pay much attention to them then.
“There were announcements all afternoon telling people not to climb on the pier. After 2pm it seemed like people didn’t go near it.
“The next announcement we got was at 4pm about a dangerous wave in the water and not soon after we saw a few swimmers in trouble at sea.
“Things got really chaotic when they brought a young man back to shore on a lifeguard jet ski. It was clear that he was no longer alive. At that point, people started to gather and the lifeguards tried to clean the beach while helping the others into the water at the same time.
“We also saw the young girl being brought out and there were no apparent injuries on her either. I just wanted to get my family off the beach with our belongings.”
Miss Holton said: “It was like a scene from a horror movie. After an afternoon of fine weather and the odd announcement to tell children to stop climbing the pier, it seemed that things had all settled down.
“When we first saw the swimmers in distress, they were well to the east of the pier.
“A lifeguard ran into the water with a surfboard and it seemed like ages before he got to them. There was an announcement to get out of the water and then the lifeguards started taking people back to shore.
“A few were taken to the lifeguard tent and then we saw the young man and girl being taken outside. We were packing our things to leave as soon as possible. It was just awful.
“There were tons of idiots ignoring lifeguards’ requests to get out of the water and clean the beach. People ran to those who were filming CPR on their phones.”
The first person to reach the deceased girl was an 18-year-old boy.
His father, Rob Creech, said today: “My son was swimming on the other side of the pier with some friends.
“Suddenly there were a lot of people on the pier screaming and yelling that someone was in the water. He swam to the other side of the pier and found a young girl floating face down in the water.
“The emergency services were just arriving at the beach so he yelled at them and lifted her up to swim to shore. He managed to get her onto the beach and the emergency services took over from there.”
Dorset Police said they received a report from paramedics of people needing help on the beach at Bournemouth Pier at around 4.30pm on Wednesday.
Steph Newman-Johnston was on FaceTime with her sister who was on the beach when the incident unfolded.
She said: “While we were talking she said she saw a body washed up with other people.
“All I could hear was her screaming for someone’s attention to see the body and then I saw a person run to the body and pull it out.”
Mr Larcombe said he was unsure whether the youngsters had jumped off the Victorian pier or swam under it at the time.
Sea conditions in Bournemouth when the incident occurred appeared to be calm, with very little swell. The water temperature was 15 degrees, meaning a wetsuit is needed to swim comfortably.
The tides at Bournemouth see two highs and two lows in a 24 hour period. As in the rest of the UK, the tidal range is large, exposing large areas of sand at low tide.
The low tide on May 31st was at 1:44 pm and it was 3 feet high, while the high tide was at 7:35 pm and was 6 feet 8 feet – making it a big tide.
This means the incident happened mid-tide when the water would have pushed to shore.
Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan, from Dorset Police, said: “Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the young people who died tragically and we are doing everything we can to support their families.
“I understand that the beach was very busy at the time of the incident and I would ask anyone who has information to help us to come forward.
“We are in the early stages of our investigation and would like to ask people not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, said the incident was a “learning lesson” that “danger is always present” on beaches and the ocean.
“Everyone is reflecting on the terrible events that are unfolding in Bournemouth tonight,” he said.
“A salutary lesson that our beaches and ocean can be great fun, but danger is always present.
“Thanks to the Life Guards and the Air Ambulance that we can take for granted.”