A TEENAGER died after jumping off a bridge into a river during a day out with friends. David Clark, 18, disappeared beneath fast-flowing waters after leaping from the 20ft-high suspension bridge.
Shocked daytrippers watched in horror as he failed to surface and his friends began a frantic search for him. But it was not until four hours later that police divers found his body.
The teenager, who was single and lived in Sumner Road in Birkenhead, and his friends had gone to make the most of the sunny weather in Chester yesterday.
They went to the Queen's Park suspension bridge over the River Dee, a popular - but dangerous - place for people to swim during the summer months.
The boy went into the water around 5pm, police said, and immediately got into difficulties and disappeared under the water.
Passengers on nearby boats dived in themselves to try and pull him to safety but were unsuccessful.
A rescue operation by police, ambulance and fire crews was mounted. The coastguard also dispatched the inshore lifeboat from Flint to assist the search.
The teenager's anguished family arrived at the scene while the underwater search was being carried out.
Inspector Adele Jones of Cheshire Police said: "The man jumped into the water but unfortunately he immediately got into difficulties despite attempts by others to assist him and disappeared under the water.
"Extensive searches were made and it was not until 9pm that his body was located.
"The victim's family are very distressed."
Insp Jones added a warning to others: "These waters are not safe to swim in; the river is extremely deep and hazardous and is very cold. There was also a strong current with a lot of mud underneath the water. With that combination of conditions he didn't stand a chance."
Friends who were with the victim, who was unemployed, were last night interviewed by police about the events leading up to the tragedy.
Eye-witness David Brown, who was boating on the river when the incident occurred, said: "I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
"One minute he was on the bridge and the next he was in the river. A few people in boats nearby jumped in to try and rescue him but it was useless.
"He had gone under and didn't come back up."
A post mortem is due to take place later this morning.