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Police and Firefighters watch man kill himself


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  • Police and Firefighters watch man kill himself


    This looked like a choice of the man to me. I know it sounds cruel, but this guy wanted to die.

    SAN FRANCISCO — Fire crews and police could only watch after a man waded into San Francisco Bay, stood up to his neck and waited. They wanted to do something, but a policy tied to earlier budget cuts strictly forbade them from trying to save the 50-year-old, officials said.

    A witness finally pulled the apparently suicidal man's lifeless body from the 54-degree water.

    The San Jose Mercury News reported that the man, later identified as Raymond Zack, spent nearly an hour in the water before he drowned.

    According to reports, first responders and about 75 people watched the incident on Monday from a beach in Alameda, a city of about 75,000 people across from San Francisco.

    Interim Alameda Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi said that due to 2009 budget cuts his crews did not have the training or cold-water gear to go into the water.

    "The incident yesterday was deeply regrettable," he said Tuesday. "But I can also see it from our firefighters' perspective. They're standing there wanting to do something, but they are handcuffed by policy at that point."

    But Tuesday night, after hearing from angry residents at a City Council meeting, the city promised to spend up to $40,000 to certify 16 firefighters in land-based water rescues, KGO-TV reported.

    Advertise | AdChoicesAdvertise | AdChoicesAdvertise | AdChoices."This just strikes me as not just a problem with funding, but a problem with the culture of what's going on in our city, that no one would take the time and help this drowning man," KGO quoted resident Adam Gillitt as saying.

    A witness, Perry Smith, said Zack was visible from the shore of Crown Memorial State Beach and was looking at people.

    "We expected to see at some point that there would be a concern for him," another witness, Gary Barlow, told KGO.

    Witness Sharon Brunetti told the Mercury News that Zack's stepmother stopped her on the beach and asked her to call 911, saying he was threatening to take his own life.

    Zack "gradually inched out farther and farther" from the shore but occasionally glanced back over his shoulder at the beach, Brunetti said.

    "The next thing he was floating face down," the Mercury News quoted her as saying.

    Too shallow for boat
    The Coast Guard was called to the scene, but the water was too shallow for its boat. A Coast Guard helicopter arrived more than an hour later because it had been on another call and had to refuel.

    As for police, they didn't have the gear for the cold water and couldn't risk being pulled under.

    "Certainly this was tragic, but police officers are tasked with ensuring public safety, including the safety of personnel who are sent to try to resolve these kinds of situations," Alameda police Lt. Sean Lynch said.

    "He was engaged in a deliberate act of taking his own life," Lynch told the Mercury News. "We did not know whether he was violent, whether drugs were involved. It's not a situation of a typical rescue."

    There are no lifeguards at the beach, said Isa Polt-Jones, a spokeswoman with the East Bay Regional Park District. Signs at the park advise swimmers to enter the water at their own risk.

    The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.


  • #2
    Cold and/or swift water is no joke. Too many would-be rescuers have become victims themselves from attempting saves in these situations. I'm glad the city is going to spend the money to equip and train them properly, but it shouldn't take someone to die for this to happen. It seems to be all about the almighty dollar. Wonder how much a civil action is going to cost them. I would say a lot more than the $40k they're spending now.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..


    • #3
      You can't blame the officers and jakes for not entering the water. If there policy forbades them from doing so then that's what they have to follow. Let's say they enter the water, get swept away and die. Their family might be denied benefits due to the fact that they broke department protocol which led to their death. And, let's say they enter the water and save the man, they would be equally as fvcked because they could lose their job (due to the broken protocol). Damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of situation.
      Everybody counts or no one counts.
      -Harry Bosch

      Some of you may remember that in my early days I was sort of a bleeding heart liberal. Then I became a man and put away childish things.
      -Ronald Reagan


      • #4
        Oh well!

        Someone who wants to commit suicide will become combative with any rescuers. They did what I would have done....
        Call the Coast Guard (Treasure Island is really close).......and if they don't make it there before he drowns...then they can fish em out. The water was too shallow for a boat...opps! Anyone who jumps in after him...needs their arse chewed out.

        Don't become a victim.

        Wonder if he saw the Golden Gate Bridge as he waded in? Hmmmm...now that's usually successful!
        Last edited by deputy x 2; 06-01-2011, 05:22 PM.
        This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.


        • #5
          Attempting to rescue anyone , anytime without proper training and equipment is stupid. Then you add to that the fact the person was bent on dying------------------yea the emergency personnel did exactly what they should have.
          Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

          My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS


          • #6
            \The witnesses complaining that nothing was done could have easily jumped in and helped!


            • #7
              Whatever. Dude wanted to die.
              For the cops out there: You are an adult. If you want to write someone, write them. If you don't want to write someone, then don't write them.

              "Jeff, you are the best cop on this board"-Anonymous Post


              • #8
                The guy wanted to die, call me heartless but that was his choice.

                I don't think its right for a person wanting to end their life risking the life of the men and women trying to save them. It is sad but I don't want to see others die to save someone that doesn't want to live. I really don't want them to be criticized.
                It's not that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so much that isn't so. Ronald Reagan

                TSA, I would rather be felt up than blown up.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SgtScott31 View Post
                  Wonder how much a civil action is going to cost them. I would say a lot more than the $40k they're spending now.
                  Actually, in California there is no duty to protect in these circumstances. In California, mere failure to act does not necessarily incur liability.

                  Liability only arises if a specific promise of protection is made and you then fail to meet it. (Just call the police time and we'll be there in three minutes.) No agency specifically promised to attempt a rescue of suicidal or drowning persons. Hence, no liability.

                  DAL can give a more eloquent explanation than I can.
                  Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


                  • #10
                    Aside from all else-- what a miserable way to commit suicide! He stood in cold water for nearly an hour? AND in front of a lot of people who might be tempted to try to save him?

                    But if that is as "mixed-emotions" as it sounds, it is real unfair to draw anyone else into danger to rescue him.
                    We do not all come to religion over the wandering years,
                    but sooner or later we all get to meet God. -- Edward Conlon


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by L-1 View Post
                      Actually, in California there is no duty to protect in these circumstances. In California, mere failure to act does not necessarily incur liability.

                      Liability only arises if a specific promise of protection is made and you then fail to meet it. (Just call the police time and we'll be there in three minutes.) No agency specifically promised to attempt a rescue of suicidal or drowning persons. Hence, no liability.

                      DAL can give a more eloquent explanation than I can.
                      I believe it all depends. If there are multiple bodies of water or waterways where it is apparent that a water rescue team would likely be needed, then liability may attach. It's one thing if there is a lengthy response time. It's another if there is no water rescue team at all. I would expect any city/county that has rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water to have some sort of water rescue team/response. Not to suggest that they could have got there in time to save the guy, but if there's no team at all, I think it raises some serious issues. Issues that a jury may see fit to attach liability with.
                      I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..


                      • #12
                        I found this on another site I frequent.

                        Letter to the Editor of the Alameda Sun: Beach safety focus


                        I am an Alameda resident, father of three children, and a Alameda firefighter.

                        I feel that it is my responsibility to respond to the article, "Be Safe in Water," printed in the Alameda Sun by the Fire Department administration, July 16. The message regarding "Beach Safety Tips" in reference to "lifeguards" can be confusing, and somewhat misleading, so I feel it incumbent on me to clarify certain facts regarding water rescue and safety.

                        The article advises the reader to "swim near a lifeguard" and to "ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering unfamiliar water." The public needs to be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty anywhere on Crown Beach's 2.5 mile stretch or elsewhere along the surrounding natural water areas of Alameda.

                        In 1999, the City Council approved the implementation of a Surface Water Rescue Swimmer program to provide Alameda firefighters with the necessary skills and resources to provide water rescue response to all waterfront areas of Alameda's jurisdiction.

                        This program was instituted due to the absence of lifeguards, the significant delays of water rescue response from the Coast Guard and Sheriff's Dive Teams, and the lack of certified water rescue training for Alameda firefighters.

                        After the death of two adolescents below the Bay Farm Island Bridge a few years earlier, the Fire Department urged the City to support a safer, more efficient water rescue response capability, which the Fire Department has since offered, until now.

                        Last year, the City Council approved a budget presented by former City Manager Debra Kurita and current Fire Chief Dave Kapler that has dismantled the Fire Department Surface Water Rescue capability.

                        Due to the budget reductions, the necessary recertification of our water rescue swimmers for OSHA compliance was not funded.

                        As of March 16, 2009, the Fire Department administration issued an operational status change, placing the surface water rescue swimmer program on hold. According to the status change, "all previously qualified Rescue Swimmers shall not enter the water for an active incident until further notice."

                        What does all of this mean to a swimmer in distress? It means that firefighters may not swim to or use the rescue boat and rescue boards to approach a distressed swimmer in the water.

                        Firefighters are permitted to toss a 75-foot water rescue rope to the victim, provided the victim is within 75 feet of the shore, to effect a rescue. The Fire Department Incident Commander will request that the County Dispatcher contact Coast Guard for assistance.

                        So, in the absence of lifeguards, what do I recommend for a "safe and smart" time at the beach?

                        Don't enter the water with more than one non-proficient swimmer at a time. Having three children of my own, it's very easy to lose track of one while supervising the others. Keep your eyes on and stay close to the non-proficient swimmer at all times. Even in shallow water, maintain a 1:1 ratio. The waves, swells and tides can be challenging for young ones and it only takes a split-second for tragedy to occur.

                        The person in question that drowned on Memorial day was obviously disturbed and not a swimmer in distress.


                        • #13
                          That's what's wrong with this country. A guy kills himself and the story turns into one about money.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jeffIL View Post
                            Whatever. Dude wanted to die.
                            Yeah, I'm not seeing a negative side in this story. Everyone got what they wanted.


                            • #15
                              Even if they had their OSHA compliant water rescue class, I wouldn't expect or want anyone to jump in the San Francisco Bay to 'rescue' a guy in the process of committing suicide.
                              If a witness just walked out to him after he went unconscious and pulled his body out of the water, then that is embarrassing, other than that, I don't see the big outrage.
                              The liberal politician has the only job where they go to the office to work for everyone but those who pay their salary.


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