A MAN watched in horror as his friend fell to his death in a Huddersfield canal.
The two were returning home from a night out when the victim plunged from the Leeds Road bridge into the Huddersfield Broad Canal at Deighton, just before 3.25am yesterday.
Police, fire and ambulance crews mounted an urgent rescue attempt. But they were unable to save the man, who lived in Deighton and was 20.
Police have still to name the man, but floral tributes at the scene showed that he was called Sam.
He had been drinking at a few of his local pubs in the Leeds Road area with his 27-year-old friend.
As his friend walked ahead, the man somehow toppled over a 4ft-high metal barrier, dropped 12ft on to rough banking and slid into the water.
His friend, alerted by a rustle, was just in time to see him roll into the waterway.
He quickly abandoned a fruitless rescue attempt and called for help at a nearby house.
A specialist rescue team from Brighouse fire station joined crews from Huddersfield, Mirfield and Cleckheaton.
Two searchers found the body at the bottom of the 9ft-deep canal beneath the bridge.
It is estimated that the man could have been submerged for up to 40 minutes. It is probable that he was knocked unconscious on the banking.
Det Insp Steve Hepplestone, of Huddersfield police, said the incident took only seconds.
He added: "His friend lost sight of him. And things like this can happen so quickly. But we are not sure how the man came to go over the parapet."
Officers later interviewed the friend at Huddersfield police headquarters.
He has been left extremely shocked by the tragedy.
The incident is not being treated as suspicious.
A post-mortem is expected to be carried out later today.