DISTURBING footage shows the shocking moment a crowd watched a man drowning in a river and "took selfies" instead of helping.
The man was heard screaming for help after he plunged into freezing water in the River Ouse, York, on Thursday.
But onlookers made no attempt to rescue him, with unconfirmed reports suggesting some bystanders even took selfies while the horror unfolded.
Despite there being two life rings accessible just metres from the scene, no one tried to help the man as he struggled to keep his head above the water which is 30ft deep.
North Yorkshire Police eventually arrived at the scene and threw one of the life rings in the river to help keep the man afloat.
He was later brought ashore where he was given first aid by paramedics and is now recovering in hospital.
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In a statement, North Yorkshire Police said: “Would you be a bystander or a lifesaver? Two of our officers saved a man in the River Ouse in York yesterday.
“They were glad to help… but something they saw made them concerned.
“Crowds gathered on Ouse Bridge and surrounding walkways watching the man struggle to keep his head above water.But nobody had attempted to throw him a life ring.
“At least two floatation devices were accessible metres from the scene. Fortunately, when we arrived we were able to quickly find a life ring and throw it to the man.”
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The man was eventually rescued with the help of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the York Rescue Boat and given first aid. He is now in hospital recovering.
Following the incident, the fire service has produced a video about how to use a life ring with the public urged to watch it and make a note of floatation device locations around the river.
The fire service said rescue attempts could be made with sticks, scarves and other items of clothing.
However, they advised that people should not jump in the water or they could be swept away too.
They also released body camera footage of officers carrying out the rescue operation, and stressed for anyone witnessing a drowning to phone 999 or call for help.
Police sergeant Toby Gorwood, who helped at the rescue, said: "It’s always worth making a mental note of life ring locations along your local river in case you ever need to help someone in trouble.
"Floatation aids allow you to do this while minimising the danger to yourself, which is also important. Those vital seconds can make all the difference."
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