No jet skis or pier jumping were involved in the deaths of two children at Bournemouth beach, Dorset Police have said.
There was also no physical contact between the 10 swimmers plucked from the waves on Wednesday evening and any vessel, the force added on Thursday. A 40-year-old man “on the water” at the time of the tragedy has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
The youngsters who died after being pulled from the sea – a 17-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl – had suffered “critical injuries”. Eight other people were treated on the beach for injuries described as non-threatening.
The boy, from Southampton, and the girl, from Buckinghamshire, did not know each other. The girl was from High Wycombe, the Bucks Free Press reports.
Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell said on Thursday afternoon there was no suggestion of people jumping from Bournemouth pier or of jet skis being involved.
“As we have a person in custody, you will know there is only limited information I can give about the investigation,” she said.
“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,” she continued.
“I can also confirm there is no suggestion of people jumping from the pier or jet-skis being involved.”
Dorset Police promised further information would be released as the investigation, Operation Marble, progressed.
A total of 10 people were rescued from the sea, Ms Farrell said, and she thanked members of the public who helped the people in trouble in the water.
“I’m also very grateful to the wider beach-goers who really quickly moved from the beach and allowed emergency services to do their work,” 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.”
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 jet skis 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.”
Councillor Vikki Slade, leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said what happened must have been terrifying.
“I want to add our sincere condolences to the families of the children who lost their lives, and our thoughts are with the families of the young people that were in the water,” she said.
“It must have been a really terrifying experience for everybody.”