A 52-year-old man successfully committed suicide in San Francisco Bay on Memorial Day in the presence of firefighters and policemen, who refused to rescue him, sending the city into a shock.
Mayor Marie Gilmore announced the City Council will investigate the death of Raymond Zack, who tried to drown into San Francisco Bay for suicide on Memorial Day, when police and firefighters watched on the shore for about one hour, without moving a finger.
According to a witness, Raymond Zack paced on the beach for a while before wading into the frigid water fully clothed at about 11:30 a.m.
The witness said Zack waded farther and farther into the water, every now and then looking back at the people on the shore.
When the people realized that Zack was trying to commit suicide, they alerted 911.
Soon thereafter, policemen and firefighters arrived at the spot. However, to the great shock of onlookers, the policemen and firefighters didn’t move to rescue Zack or communicate with him.
The police said it was dangerous to rescue Zack as he was trying to commit suicide and could turn violent. Moreover, Zack weighed 300 pounds, and police were concerned that Zack could drag his rescuer under water together with him.
The firefighters said they didn’t have the proper training to conduct water rescues. They said 2009 policy, following budget cuts, prohibited them from rescuing people in water.
When Zack was about 50 yards away from the shore, a young woman dived into the water to rescue him.
Even as the woman was dragging Zack to the shore, the policemen and the firefighters kept watching.
Zack was taken to the Alameda Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
It's a very tragic event, police Lt. Sean Lynch said. But he was engaged in a deliberate act of taking his own life. We did not know whether he was violent, whether drugs were involved. It's not a situation of a typical rescue.
However, according to a March 2009 memo from the interim Alameda fire chief, firefighters were supposed to undergo water rescue training about 30 days from the date of the memo.
The city’s taxpayers are upset because they feel they can’t rely on the state to provide basic protection.
Mayor Marie Gilmore said the City Council will investigate the case. We are absolutely going to do an investigation. And we are planning to do it in as transparent a way as possible, The Oakland Tribune citied Gilmore as saying our goal is to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.