Two teenagers have been hailed heroes after they helped bring a man struggling in the water off Bournemouth Pier to safety on the day two children died in the sea.

Iona Hunter, 14, and Kaiden Andre, 15, were swimming in water at Bournemouth beach on the day of a tragic incident, which led to the deaths of a 12-year-old girl from High Wycombe - identified on social media as Sunnah Khan - and a 17-year-old boy from Southampton.

Eight others were treated by paramedics after being rescued from the sea. The father of one of the survivors previously addressed rumours of what happened during the tragedy, saying his daughter was caught in a riptide.

Amid the chaotic scenes on the south coast beach, Basingstoke teenagers Hunter and Andre along with their group of friends have been praised for helping a man who was struggling in the water.

A young boy was first helped out of the sea by their friend Max, when Hunter and Andre realised others were in trouble.

“One of my friends [Max] helped him to safety, but then we realised there were two other people, a man and a woman, struggling even further out,” The Times quotes Iona as saying.

“The man was struggling, so me and Kaiden both put his weight on our shoulders to help keep him afloat.

“I wasn’t really feeling anything at that point — I was just thinking about trying to get him back to shore. He was heavy, he had inhaled lots of water.”

The 14-year-old said that one of the lifeguards, who appeared to be assessing who needed an urgent rescue, swam out to them around 15 minutes and “got him on the surfboard”.

Meanwhile, Kaiden’s mother, Jody Andre, told the Bournemouth Echo: “His instinct was just to help but it really did scare him, we can’t believe the bravery that he showed.”

“Kaiden said to me he has never known the sea to be that choppy,” Ms Andre added, saying there were no speeding boats or people jumping off the pier.

Ms Andre said that this was the first time Kaiden had been allowed out to Bournemouth with his friends.

“When I saw my child get off the train back home, knowing that someone had lost their child, I cannot tell you how that felt,” she said.

The proud mother said that a police officer called home to speak to Andre and said he should consider himself a “hero” for his actions.

A sightseeing boat, the Dorset Belle, was impounded by police after the incident on Wednesday. A man in his forties was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and has been released under investigation.

According to the website Marine Traffic, the vessel had visited Bournemouth Pier, the scene of the incident, at 4pm, minutes before the first 999 calls were made, and returned again afterwards.

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

The 78ft Dorset Belle can carry 80 people and operates an hourly service.

The Independent has approached Dorset Police for an update.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

2023-06-04T09:55:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd