Bournemouth beach: man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter released under investigation
A 17-year-old male and a 12-year-old girl died in the incident on Thursday 1 June
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A man who was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old died at Bournemouth beach has been released under investigation.
The two children, who were not related, died after getting into difficulty in the sea off Bournemouth beach on Wednesday afternoon (31 May). It still remains unclear how the boy, from Southampton, and the girl, from Buckinghamshire, sustained “critical injuries”, but Dorset Police said the pair had "no physical contact" with a vessel on the water.
Police say there is “no suggestion” of people jumping from Bournemouth pier or of jet skis being involved in the tragedy that led to the deaths of a 17-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl.
Emergency services attended an incident at around 4.30pm on Wednesday afternoon (31 May) after Dorset Police received a report from paramedics of people requiring assistance on the beach off Bournemouth Pier.
Ten people were recovered from the water but a boy, 17, and a girl, 12, sustained “critical injuries” and sadly later died in hospital. The other eight people were treated for injuries that are not life-threatening at the scene.
An investigation into the incident has been launched and a man in his 40s, who the force said was “on the water” at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell said officers are investigating the “circumstances or event” that caused several people to get into difficulty in the water.
In an update on Thursday afternoon (1 June), she said: “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. 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.”
Constable Farrell urged people not to speculate about the incident in Bournemouth, adding that people should send any images to police rather than sharing on social media.
She said: “As you can imagine, we are at the early stages of our investigation, and we would ask people not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident to both protect our inquiries and out of respect for the victims and their families.
“We are aware of a number of videos circulating on social media and we would urge people to refrain from doing this. We know the beach was very busy when the incident occurred. I am today urging anyone who saw what happened or has any information that may assist to please come forward.
“If anyone has relevant phone footage then they can contact Dorset Police through our major incident public portal where they can upload the images and we will share the links on social media. This operation is named Operation Marble. So please share the images with the police rather than on social media,” she said.
Constable Farrell thanked members of the public who rushed to help people in trouble in the water and praised beach-goers for moving from the beach quickly to allow emergency services to attend the incident.
Families who have arrived at the beach on Thursday spoken of their shock at the previous day’s events, with one beachgoer describing the incident as “a real tragedy”.
Witness Tom Saunders told Sky News: “I was surfing on the west side with about four other people and we heard the lifeguard sirens going off, making announcements and the beach got cleared either side. Obviously we knew something had gone on and the helicopter was coming so we knew it was serious.
“Unfortunately I saw someone receiving CPR, the lifeguards put up a screen so no-one could see but unfortunately from where we were we could. The jetskis were going round the pier looking for stuff so me and three other surfers offered to help and actually paddled into the pier to have a look. They said there were two people missing at the time then after about half an hour they said everyone was accounted for and we just carried on.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan, of Dorset Police, said in an earlier statement: “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. 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 said the incident was a “salutary lesson” that “danger is ever present” on beaches and the ocean. He added: “Thoughts with everyone associated with the dreadful events unfolding in Bournemouth this evening.
“A salutary lesson that our beaches and ocean can give much pleasure but danger is ever present. Thanks to the Life Guards and the Air Ambulance who we can take for granted.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55230083818. Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling Freephone 0800 555 111.