The father of one of the survivors of the Bournemouth beach tragedy has addressed the rumours surrounding the mystery events that led to the deaths of a 12-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, as police search a pleasure boat as part of their investigation.
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.
In response to the intense speculation that has surrounded the incident, her father told MailOnline: “We’ve seen all the stuff about boats and jet skis but it wasn’t like that. She was swimming in the sea with her friends when the rip tide took them out.
“She was lucky to get pulled from the sea by the coastguard and one of her other friends was rescued by a paddleboarder.
“I know the boy who died was at college with her, but I don’t know anything about him. All she told me is that they all met up on the train and headed to Bournemouth beach for the day.”
Police arrested a man in his 40s who was “on the water” at the time on suspicion of manslaughter and investigations to establish exactly what happened are ongoing. The man has now been released under investigation.
A pleasure boat has been searched as part of the investigation, with forensic officers seen onboard the Dorset Belle, which was in the harbour in Poole on Thursday, The Sun reported. A police source told the newspaper: “This vessel is under a police cordon. No one is permitted onboard or to touch the vessel.”
Despite Dorset Police assistant chief constable Rachel Farrel urging people not to speculate about what had happened, rumours spread among locals and tourists alike, after the girl from Buckinghamshire and the boy from Southampton lost their lives, having been pulled from the sea.
Unconfirmed reports claimed those involved in the incident had jumped off the 1,000ft-long pier - others suggested a jet ski was involved. Police later denied both theories and said there had been no contact between the victims and any vessel.
Student Mackenzie Creech, 18, who said he had tried to save the 12-year-old girl, told of enjoying a day at the beach with his friends when he heard shouts and screams from the pier and rushed into the water.
Speaking to the MailOnline, Mr Creech, who is from Tilehurst near Reading, said: “Everything happened so quickly, one minute I was enjoying the beach with some friends and then the next we heard screaming and shouting.
“I could see a body in the water, and just rushed in and scooped her up with someone else. She was face down when I got there and not moving. She was in a swimming costume but she didn't appear to have any injuries on her. There were no cuts or bruises and I just knew it didn't look good, so I carried her onto the beach.
”People were screaming and shouting and it was all really chaotic and then someone put some towels up as a screen while the paramedics worked on her.
“I was hoping she would make it and I didn't know she had passed away until I saw it on the news. I was gutted when I heard that and it's upset me, it's so sad something like this happened. I did what anyone else would have done.”
Footage posted online appeared to show CPR being given to at least one person after lifeguards rushed into the water at about 4.30pm.
Other witnesses who were on the beach at the time of the incident reported seeing the body of a young male wash up on the shore, as well as lifeguards pulling a girl from the sea next to the pier and performing CPR before she was flown to hospital by air ambulance.
Detective chief superintendent Neil Corrigan, of Dorset Police, said: “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.”