A 17-year-old high school student in Anhui, China drowned, despite five police officers present at the scene when the incident happened.
It has since been revealed that four of the five police officers reportedly could not swim, causing controversy to erupt following news of the circumstances of the tragedy being made known.
Teen entered water on her own
Local media reports in China said the teenage girl wandered into the shallow portion of the river on Dec. 4.
After members of the public saw what happened, they reported the incident to the police.
Police officers subsequently arrived at the scene to persuade the student to get to safety.
However, the teenager reportedly jumped into the deep end of the river upon seeing the police approach.
Police seen not to have jumped after girl
Two of the police officers who were on the shore were seen not to have jumped into the water to save the teenager immediately, but instead waited for their other colleagues to show up.
It was only after the rest arrived that they helped one another get into the water.
The police officers were seen walking into the water where the water level reached their waist, but did not go further.
As she struggled, officers held hands and walked into the water to try to rescue her.
According to Wuhan-based portal Jiupai News of Hubei province, neither the deputy head of the county's Leiyang police station, nor the three auxiliary police officers could swim.
They were able to pull her ashore, but she was confirmed dead after emergency treatment failed, the bureau said.
The teenager drowned.
Incident caught on camera
A member of the public who filmed what happened put the footage online, which caused controversy.
Online commenters remarked asking if the police were afraid of getting their clothes wet or if they just wanted to watch someone die.
However, there were those who defended the police's actions.
A member of the public was quoted by local media as saying what happened was unexpected: "I heard from people that the girl had been standing in the water for a long time. When the police showed up to coax her to safety, she suddenly plunged into the deep end. No one expected this."
The eyewitness said the police did not immediately jump after the girl, but it was not because they did not try.
The eyewitness said: "The two police officers who arrived first were waiting for others as they did not appear to be able to swim."
"And even if you know how to swim, it does not mean you can save someone. It is two different things. And the police did go into the water."
The police said in a statement on the day after the incident that they received a report about the girl about to commit suicide by drowning herself in a river near the county's Jishui bridge.
Rumours online that police afraid of cold
To make matters worse, it was rumoured online initially that one of the police did not go into the water as he was afraid of the cold.
But the police clarified that it was because four of the police officers could not swim.
The one police officer who did take off his uniform to enter the water had failed to rescue the girl.
The police reportedly said: "Now that the internet distorted the facts, the police must act like superman. We really did our best."
The Public Security Bureau of Wangjiang county in Anqing, Anhui province, has suspended a policeman and three auxiliary officers and launched an investigation into whether they adequately responded while trying to rescue the student.
The local bureau reportedly immediately set up an investigation team to make a decision to suspend the police and auxiliary police for investigation, and conduct a comprehensive investigation of the handling process of the incident.
The local bureau would also deal with the findings seriously in accordance with the law and regulations, based on the investigation results, it was reported.