Chances of survival slim, says Coastguard

The search for the father of a two-year-old boy found floating in the sea off Littlehampton on sunday night (June 10th) is continuing.

An inflatable tender belonging to Alan Watkins, aged 50, from London, was found by a yacht floating in the sea at 6.40pm last night. The dinghy contained personal effects, refreshments, clothes and a child’s armbands. A 999 call was made by another yacht minutes later reporting the body of a child wearing a sunblock suit, or ‘shortie’ wetsuit, had been found.

Mr Watkins and his child were reported missing by his wife last night. A caravanette, registered to Mr Watkins, was found in Sea Road, Littlehampton last night.

Their son has yet to be officially identified. A post mortem is due to take place.

The search for Mr Watkins resumed at approximately 6am this morning – utilising the services of a coastguard helicopter, Littlehampton RNLI lifeboats and coastguard search teams.

Detective Chief Inspector Adam Hibbert, Sussex Police, said:

“Our sympathies go to the mother of the little boy who has died. We believe that the two year old was with his father yesterday. We have traced their vehicle and we, with a number of agencies, are doing all we can to trace Alan Watkins.”

Anyone who has information is asked to contact the incident room on 0845 60 70 999, quoting Operation Olsen.

They can also contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.