Jay Jeffrey Linjungan's father who returned to the family home in Kg Ramayah, Penampang around 11am, found him stuck in the three-metre deep hole nearby.
"His father saw his vehicle still parked in the garage, prompting him to search for Jay, only to find his son's legs jutting out with his body halfway out of the hole," said his close lawyer friend, who only wished to be identified as Adel.
It was said that he was still breathing when his father found him, but was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital where doctors found mud stuck in his mouth.
Adel said Jay who loved animals is believed to have tried to save the puppy but slipped and fell into the hole which was covered in mud.
It was learnt that heavy rain the previous night had caused a landslide in the area.
Sabah Law Association President Datuk Ganesh Nandy described Jay's untimely demise as a loss to the Sabah Bar, saying Jay was one of the promising young lawyers.
"I knew him when he was still chambering with a firm because our respective companies were in the same building at Wisma Merdeka," he said.
"If I am not mistaken Jay was admitted to the Sabah Bar about one and a half years ago. I can remember it because I presided on behalf of the SLA at that time and I also interviewed him," said Ganesh.
"Actually I met him in the court Tuesday morning. As usual, he was doing his work, normal things, and greeted everyone and talking with his friends," recalled Ganesh.
Others who also knew Jay, who read law at UiTM after finishing his secondary studies at St Michael's Penampang, also described him as an affable young man who got along well with others.
His childhood friend, known only as Ryne, 28, claimed the last time they met was during a full moon celebration of their friend's child.
"I tried contacting him since last night via WhatsApp and calls but he did not answer me," he said, adding he tried calling again today (Wednesday) only to be told about the incident.
Ryne described him as a responsible man who was the hope of the family.
Penampang MP Darrel Leiking who also knew him said he was heartbroken on hearing the sad news.
"He was a good boy until the end É this is not something that we do everyday," he said. Animal activist Sam Lau when contacted said it is most unfortunate that a person should die in such a manner.
"Even though I have never met him in person, I have utmost respect for what he did. It is a noble act for a person to take the time and risk their life to rescue an animal," said Lau. Police have classified the case as sudden death.