A brave Samaritan was fighting for his life yesterday after jumping into a Birmingham canal to try and rescue a drowning man.

The man was taken to City Hospital following the incident near James Brindley Walk, close to the Firkin pub at Brindleyplace. His condition was last night described as poorly.

The man he was trying to rescue was pronounced dead at the hospital while the second would-be rescuer was released after treatment.

Eye-witness David Hunter-Stanley, a retired postman, described how two men had jumped in after a man in his 40s had apparently fallen into the canal and suffered head injuries.

"I heard a lot of shouting and looked over the wall and saw four or five people next to the canal," said Mr David Hunter-Stanley, owner of a nearby narrowboat.

"Two of them jumped down into the canal. They tried to get the man to the ladder but he was obviously unconscious and too heavy to lift out."

Mr Hunter-Stanley, aged 60, then helped get the injured man out using his boat hook.

"The two men in the canal were pushing him up and one of them fell back into the water and disappeared. The unconscious man looked in a very bad way."

Attempts were made to revive that man at the canal-side but he was later pronounced dead at City Hospital.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said it was not yet known whether there were any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.