Boy, 17, and girl, 12, die following incident off Bournemouth beach

The two youngsters who died in the Bournemouth beach tragedy drowned, an opening inquest has heard.

Sunnah Khan, 12, described by a family friend as an “angel” and Joe Abbess, 17, died last week after getting into difficulty in the sea off the pier.

Earlier, Sunnah’s mother Stephanie Williams said she was still in the dark about what happened during the incident and had not been given any information beyond what Dorset Police said at a news conference following the deaths.

“It’s just really difficult to accept,” she told The Sun. “Somebody has potentially caused Sunnah to be taken away from us. Ms Williams added the cause of her daughter’s death was “drowning” but there were “no other injuries”.

Dorset Police initially said the deceased has sustained “critical injuries”. Joe, from Southampton, was identified as the other victim.

His family said they were “heartbroken and devastated” at the loss of a “fabulous young man” and “talented trainee chef” who was enjoying a day at Bournemouth beach when he died on Wednesday.

A 40-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following the incident has been released under investigation.


Breaking: Youngsters died of ‘drowning’, inquest hears

Joe Abbess, 17, and Sunnah Khan, 12, died of drowning following “suggestions” they got caught in a riptide off Bournemouth beach, an inquest opening at Bournemouth has heard.

We’ll have more on this breaking story as it comes in.

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 11:24


Coroner offers condolences to family of victims

Rachael Griffin, senior coroner for Dorset, said: “I understand there is an ongoing police investigation, despite that, I have already submitted the appropriate paperwork and released both Joe’s and Sunnah’s bodies for the purposes of their funerals.

“In relation to that ongoing police investigation, I am unable to make any progress in my inquiries.

“It’s very important people do not speculate on the circumstances surrounding Joe and Sunnah’s deaths and allow the police investigation to proceed, which will allow my investigation to proceed.

“I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere condolences to Joe and Sunnah’s families, my thoughts are very much with them at this difficult time following this tragedy.

“My thoughts are also with those who attended or witnessed the traumatic events.”

She added: “I wish to take this opportunity to remind all those who enter the sea or open water to be aware of the powers of the water and the risks of swimming in open water.

“It’s important they are aware of how to respond when problems arise and urge people to follow guidance from public agencies such as the RNLI.”

Ms Griffin adjourned the hearing until a pre-inquest review to be held on September 18.

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 13:10


Victims identified at hospitals by their parents

In a hearing to open the inquest proceedings at Bournemouth Town Hall, Dorset coroner’s officer Nicola Muller said that post mortem examinations carried out by Home Office pathologist Basil Purdue showed the cause of their deaths was drowning.

She said that Joe, a trainee chef, was taken to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital where he was pronounced dead, and Sunnah was taken to Poole General Hospital.

She said that Joe was identified by Detective Constable Hannah Webster by a photograph provided by his family, and Sunnah was identified by her father at the hospital.

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 12:37


‘Angel’ schoolgirl who died at Bournemouth beach ‘was chest-deep when she was pulled under water’

The 12-year-old girl who died in the Bournemouth beach tragedy was chest-deep in the sea when she was pulled underwater, it has been reported.

Sunnah Khan, 12, from High Wycombe, was standing chest-deep in the sea before the incident unfolded beside Bournemouth Pier, according to The Sun.

A 17-year-old trainee chef from Southampton, Joe Abbess, also died after a struggle in the water.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain reports:

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 11:15


Dorset Police defends handling of ‘complex’ case

A top policing official has defended Dorset Police’s handling of the Bournemouth beach tragedy, saying it is a“complex” case.

David Sidwick, the Conservative police and crime commissioner for Dorset, pushed back against allegations that the force had not provided enough clarity about what happened.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while there would be a review of police communication “at the end of all this”, officers were dealing with a “complex” case and cooperating with other agencies.

He added: “This is a complex investigation. It includes a number of agencies including the coroner’s office, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Dorset police.

“They are working together as fast as they can to find out what happened on that day. And I truly believe that they need to be given the time and space to do that fully, thoroughly, professionally and without hindrance.

“At this moment in time, we have to understand that this is an immensely complex situation. The police moved to rule out those things which they could rule out when they had enough evidence to be able to do that.

“What they can’t do is say what exactly happened and they shouldn’t because the veracity of any statement made by those investigating this incident must be beyond reproach.

“And not just for any legal situation, but also because it is, to remind everyone – the victims and their families’ needs are paramount.”

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 10:50


Lack of clarity from police fuelling ‘wild speculation online’ – MP

A lack of clarity from police investigating what happened in the Bournemouth tragedy is fuelling “wild speculation” on social media, a senior MP has said.

Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East and chair of the Commons defence committee, suggested the void could be filled with “misleading messaging” by those “who wish us harm”.

Police are keeping an “open mind” about the circumstances that led to the death of two youngsters who got into difficulty in the water off Bournemouth beach.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier, Mr Ellwood said: “Certainly anybody would not want to impede or prejudice the investigation.

“But if the absence of any comprehensive statement becomes standard, I can see who, speaking on a wider picture and security level… those who wish us harm could leverage the void by misleading messaging.

“We do need to understand, learn lessons from this, provide clarity early on – just so people can have an assurance of mind as to what roughly happened, and then make their own assessments as to whether it’s safe to go or whether they should move away.”

(Sky News)

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 10:35


What is a riptide? Sea phenomenon explained after Bournemouth tragedy

Bournemouth Pier, like all outcrops in the ocean such as groins, headlands or sandbars, presents danger for swimmers due to riptides, or rip currents.

Rips, as they are commonly known, are strong currents that occur when water that has been pushed towards land by the sea, is tracking back out, creating a channel of water which pulls back out to sea.

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 10:15


ICYMI: Father of Bournemouth tragedy survivor addresses rumours

Survivor Lauren Tate, 18, one of eight others who were injured, was treated in hospital and is now continuing to recover at home, after a rip tide took her and her friends out to sea when they were swimming by the pier, according to her father.

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 09:39


Victim’s mother still in the dark over what happened

The mother of a girl who died in the Bournemouth beach tragedy has said she is still in the dark about what happened during the incident.

Sunnah Khan, 12 and Joe Abbess, 17, died last week after getting into difficulty in the sea off the pier.

Her mother, Stephanie Williams, 32, said she has not been given any information beyond what Dorset Police said at a news conference following the deaths.

“It’s just really difficult to accept,” she told The Sun. “Somebody has potentially caused Sunnah to be taken away from us.

Ms Williams added the cause of her daughter’s death was drowning but there were “no other injuries”.

(Twitter/Stephanie Williams)

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 07:49


Recap: everything we know so far about the beach deaths

Here is everything we know so far:

Matt Mathers5 June 2023 07:31

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