Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Toddler Dies and Father Goes Missing in Channel Mystery; Deserted Boat Found a Mile out in Calm Sea

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Toddler Dies and Father Goes Missing in Channel Mystery; Deserted Boat Found a Mile out in Calm Sea

Article excerpt

A HUGE search was under way today for a missing Londoner whose twoyear-old son died after he was found floating in the sea off the Sussex coast.

Alan Watkins, 50, from Peckham, was reported missing by his wife last night.

Medics spent two hours trying to save his son Arun's life after he was plucked out of the water off Littlehampton, West Sussex, but he died in hospital.

The toddler was notwearing a lifejacket when he was found, and armbands were found in the empty dinghy the father and son had been in.

Coastguards said they were baffled at how Arun ended up in the water in calm seas and excellent visibility.

A caravanette registered to Mr Watkins was found in Littlehampton. Today hopes were fading that he would be found alive. Mark Clark, spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: "The teams are searching a large area between Butlins at Bognor Regis and East Preston, and fivemiles out to sea.

"We have no idea what has happened to cause this tragedy. There are unanswered questions. The sea was calm and weather conditions were good.

"Early suggestions that the boy was wearing a lifejacket were wrong.

Strangely, his water wings were found inside the abandoned boat. There were personal belongings inside the boat which were all dry, indicating that it had probably not capsized." Arun was taken from the sea by a yacht crew at 6.50pm yesterday.

Andrew Jarman 40, told of the desperate attempts to save the child: "We saw a fishing boat come into the harbour and as it pulled up to the slipway a man jumped out holding a little boy.

"He laid him down on the ground and a woman who had also been in the boat gave him mouth-to-mouth. The kid was blue, but he was still alive. But he then seemed to fall in and out of consciousness as the ambulance arrived. …

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