Bournemouth tragedy victims named

Joe Abbess, 17 and 12-year-old Sunnah Summayah Khan who both died in the tragedy - Facebook/Dorset Police
Joe Abbess, 17 and 12-year-old Sunnah Summayah Khan who both died in the tragedy - Facebook/Dorset Police

The family of a teenager who died after getting into difficulty in the water off Bournemouth beach on Wednesday have remembered him as a “fabulous young man”.

Joe Abbess, from Southampton, was a trainee chef who was “kind and generous, loving and caring, hardworking and funny”, according to a family statement issued by Dorset Police.

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

“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.”

The family said Joe had been enjoying a day at the beach on Wednesday before getting into difficulty in the sea, and thanked his friends and the emergency services who helped him as the tragedy unfolded.

Joe died alongside a 12-year-old girl who earlier on Sunday was named locally as Sunnah Summayah Khan.

Sunnah Summayah Khan (pictured) was remembered by her mother as 'so well loved and well liked'
Sunnah Summayah Khan (pictured) was remembered by her mother as 'so well loved and well liked'

Sunnah’s mother, Stephanie Williams, posted a tribute to her “baby girl” on Sunday, describing her as “so well loved”.

“On Wednesday I lost my beautiful daughter at Bournemouth beach,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Sunnah was so well loved and well liked. No parent should ever have to go through what her dad and I are going through.

“We love you so much baby girl.”

A family friend told The Telegraph that Sunnah’s funeral had taken place at High Wycombe Central Mosque on Saturday afternoon.

Dorset Police said on Sunday they were keeping an “open mind” about the circumstances that led to the two deaths.

Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan said: “We continue to keep an open mind around the circumstances that have led to the tragic death of two young people in the water off the beach.

“Our thoughts remain with the families of those young people.

“As with any investigation of this nature, we have to look at all factors connected to the state of the water.

“One of those lines of enquiry has involved the pleasure boat, which was in the area at the time of the incident. These enquiries also include examining wind, other weather and general coastal conditions at the time.”

A pleasure boat was at the centre of the investigation last week.

Police guard the impounded pleasure boat - Getty Images
Police guard the impounded pleasure boat - Getty Images

The Dorset Belle, which was impounded by police after the incident while a man in his 40s, described as being “on the water” at the time of the deaths, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

Dorset Police confirmed that the man, who was released on Thursday under investigation, was not known to the victims.

They were pulled from the sea at Dorset resort’s pier on Wednesday with “critical injuries” and pronounced dead by local hospitals.

Mohammed Rafiq, a friend of Sunnah’s grandfather and trustee at Wycombe Islamic Mission and Mosque Trust, said: “There were hundreds of people at the funeral, the mosque was basically overflowing. I know the extended family, they have been living in High Wycombe for the last 40 or 50 years, they are well-respected and well-known in the community. It’s a close-knit community here - everybody knows everybody.”

bournemouth beach
bournemouth beach

Mr Rafiq said that much of the community and friends of the family are “not any wiser” about what exactly happened on Wednesday at Bournemouth beach. “All we know is just from hearsay,” he said.

The RNLI placed a large red banner with the word “Danger” emblazoned across it next to the pier after the incident, while on Friday, the Dorset Belle remained at anchor at Cobb’s Quay, Poole Harbour, guarded by a police van.

Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, said: “There needs to be a review, the police are conducting their investigation, there needs to be a review of the circumstances to see whether any safety measures and protocols need to be upgraded.

“I encourage Dorset Police to clarify the general circumstances of this tragic accident to avoid further wild speculation and uncertainty for parents who may be cautious about going to any part of the beach, unclear of exactly what happened.”

Police said an inquest into both of the deaths is anticipated to be opened on Monday subject to confirmation by HM Coroner.

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