Bournemouth beach victim, 17, was talented young chef

Joe Abbess was ‘kind and generous, loving and caring, hardworking and funny’

Jane Dalton
Monday 05 June 2023 07:21 BST
Police say there was 'no physical contact' between vessel and swimmers at Bournemouth beach

A 17-year-old boy who died after getting into difficulty in the water off Bournemouth beach this week has been described by his family as a “fabulous young man” and “a wonderful son and brother”.

Joe Abbess, from Southampton, was “kind and generous, loving and caring, hardworking and funny”, they said.

A 12-year-old girl, identified in many reports as Sunnah Khan, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, died at the same time.

Flowers left in tribute on the beach

A man in his 40s who was “on the water” at the time was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, and was released under investigation on Thursday while police inquiries continue.

Joe’s family said: “We are heartbroken and devastated at the death of our Joe. He was a wonderful son and brother who is sadly missed.”

Their statement, issued through Dorset Police, went on: “His family and friends will always love him and we are incredibly proud of the fabulous young man he was. He was kind and generous, loving and caring, hardworking and funny.

“Joe was a talented trainee chef, with a bright future ahead of him.

“We were privileged to have him in our lives for 17 years and we are so sorry he will never fulfil his dreams and ambitions.

“He was enjoying a day at the beach on Wednesday and we would like to thank his friends and all of the emergency services who helped him, when this tragedy unfolded.”

Family and friends have paid tribute to Sunnah Khan

A relative of the 12-year-old girl has also paid tribute to her, saying the family will remember her “every day for the rest of our lives”.

“She was an absolute force of nature, liked by all and loved by so many,” the family member reportedly said. “She will be so sorely missed by her parents, siblings and friends.

“There are no words to describe the hole she has left in all of our hearts but we will remember her every day for the rest of our lives.”

Air ambulances landed on the beach

Two teenagers have been hailed as heroes after they helped bring a man struggling in the water to safety. Iona Hunter, 14, and Kaiden Andre, 15, said they swam out to help a young man and young woman.

“The man was struggling, so me and Kaiden both put his weight on our shoulders to help keep him afloat,” The Times quotes Ioana as saying.

Emergency services pulled 10 people from the water around 4.30pm on Wednesday after beach-goers raised the alarm.

Inspections of the Dorset Belle cruise boat, impounded in Poole

The father of one of the survivors suggested this week that the swimmers had got caught up in a dangerous riptide.

The Times suggested people on the lower levels of the pier ended up in the water after being caught in high waves.

Dorset Police said no physical contact was made between the swimmers and any vessel or jet-ski and those involved had not been jumping off the pier.

Witnesses described the scene as “like a horror movie”. Air ambulances airlifted Joe and Sunnah to hospital.

Searches of a sightseeing boat at the centre of the investigation are continuing. The Dorset Belle was impounded by police on Thursday afternoon.

On Friday the boat was anchored at Cobb’s Quay, Poole Harbour, guarded by a police van.

Dorset Police have declined to comment on any investigation into the Dorset Belle and refused to say what or if any vessel was involved.

But Tobias Ellwood, MP for the area, has called on Dorset Police to provide more information to avoid “wild speculation”.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in