Bournemouth beach victims ‘had not jumped from pier or been hit by jet-ski’

A man in his 40s has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter

The two youngsters who died off Bournemouth beach had not jumped from the pier or been hit by a jet-ski, police have confirmed.

A 17-year-old boy from Southampton and a 12-year-old girl from Buckinghamshire died after getting into difficulty in the water at the Dorset resort on Wednesday afternoon.

A further eight people were treated by paramedics following the incident.

A man in his 40s, who was “on the water” at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

Speaking at a press conference, Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell confirmed that none of the swimmers had been in “physical contact” with a vessel and they had not jumped from the pier.

She added that speculation that jet-skis had been involved was also incorrect.

“Following our initial inquiries, a man aged in his 40s, who was on the water at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter,” she said.

“As we have a person in custody, you will know there is only limited information I can give about the investigation.

“However, to avoid further speculation, I am able to tell you that it’s clear that yesterday a number of people already in the water got into difficulty and we are investigating the circumstances or event that caused that to happen.

“Early investigation indicates that there was no physical contact between a vessel and any of the swimmers at the time of the incident.

“I can also confirm there is no suggestion of people jumping from the pier or jet-skis being involved.”

She said the two who died were not related to each other and those involved were “different people from different families” who were assisted by “great-spirited members of the public”.

She added: “We are all truly devastated that two young people have lost their lives.

“My thoughts and those of all the emergency services are very much with their loved ones at this horrendous time and we are doing all we can to support their families.”

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council leader Vikki Slade said the authority is working with the emergency services and will be assessing safety in the water near the pier.

“There are specific rules relating to the buoys in the water but there is no evidence that any of these rules have been breached,” she said.

Eyewitness Howard Cohen, from London, said: “I could see a lot of commotion going on; there were a lot of ambulances, police and people rushing to the beach.

“Later on they cleared the beach. It was just awful. At the time there was a lot of panic going on with the police and ambulance.”

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns said the incident is a “salutary lesson” that “danger is ever present” on beaches and the ocean.