Man Drowns In San Francisco Bay In Apparent Suicide

ALAMEDA (CBS SF) — Emergency responders were unable to rescue a 53-year-old man who lost consciouness in San Francisco Bay off the Alameda shore Monday in what police are calling an apparent suicide.

Alameda police received a call at 11:31 a.m. regarding a person who had walked into the Bay from Robert Crown Memorial Beach in the 2100 block of Shoreline Drive.

Members of the police and fire departments arrived within minutes, according to police, and immediately began requesting additional resources in rescuing the man who was approximately 150 yards from shore.

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified at 11:34 a.m., Lt. j.g. Laura Williams said, and launched a 25-foot response boat from Yerba Buena Island and a helicopter from Air Station San Francisco.

Shallow waters thwarted rescue efforts by the Coast Guard, preventing the boat, which arrived on the scene at about 11:55 a.m., from reaching the man, Williams said.

According to police, prior to the Coast Guard’s arrival to the individual, the man lost consciousness and began to drift toward shore.

By the time the helicopter arrived on the scene, some 65 minutes after notification, according to police, another person had entered the water. The good Samaritan, an avid swimmer, swam toward the man when he was approximately 50 yards from the shoreline, police said.

Members of the Coast Guard saw the pair swimming toward the shore and so the helicopter, which had been on another mission and had to return to the airfield to refuel, returned to its air station, Williams and police said.

When the victim was brought to shore, the Alameda Fire Department transported him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Alameda County coroner’s bureau identified the man as Raymond Zack, but had not yet determined Zack’s residence. Zack’s official cause of death remained under investigation as of Monday evening.

Police said that several agencies—including the Alameda County and Oakland fire departments, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, the Oakland Police Department, and the East Bay Regional Park Police District—were contacted to aid in the water rescue but were unable to provide assistance.

According to police, the Alameda Fire Department is not currently certified in land-based water rescues, and instead the city relies on the Coast Guard to conduct such rescues.

“We always work as a team with our local partners, and that includes the police and fire departments of the area we’re working in,” Williams said.


  • What's wrong with this picture?

    After 65 minutes in the water while the police and fire dept. stood around doing nothing, (it’s not my job, it’s the Coast Guard’s job) a good Samaritan swam out and got the man.

  • Ron

    If this isn’t the ultimate public employee finger pointing episode!!!!

  • chris

    It’s a good thing that Alameda fire and police were not on duty in NYC on 9/11. I can here it now: ‘We’re not trained to handled planes flying into buildings.” Hero’s, “Bah!”


      Their water training ended in 2009 so aren’t there any guys on the force who are trained from previous years? Now the cops want more taz payer money for training or else they will let us die ie in a fire, in a hostage situation, in an armed robbery….

  • whathappened

    Here are some suggetions. Take a couple of spart tires from the trunk and push them out or take a fire hose I bleiee some are rubber and float or get the other kind and two people walk out create a horse shoe and try to drag him in. or go to a store and break in and take a boat. or call another police agency. See the police and fire men are trying to create chaos and if it was an accident where some child fell into the water 20 people would have gone in. I remember when and airplane crashed into the potamic in wahington in winter and a man jumped off a brige in to icy water to help Did he have some special training. The monkeys have been runing the zoo for too long


      or shot the suicide guy in the head so he can’t cause any harm to others and them rescue him. At least then he would have a chance to servive instead of doing absolutely NOTHING

  • Laney

    Last I remember backboards float! Every engine and ambulance has a backboard! 2 persons + 1 backboard would have had the job done!

  • Lorelei

    After reading about 2 incidents where onlookers encouraged people to jump to their deaths then laughing about it afterwards,and now this,I guess SF is the place to be if you want to kill yourself.

  • Peter Minon

    How lame.. Why use a picture of water? That’s not news relevant.

  • Lilly mac

    How long has Alameda been an island? And the fire department isn’t water trained? Do we need to

  • Lilly Mac

    Pay them more?

  • m happy

    Let me guess – perhaps they had to consult with the police Departments Attorney about the rules and regs ? Or perhaps they all broke out their union contracts to see if they had any work rule forcing them to respond in this situation ? Thank God 9/11 never happended near San Fran – or everyone would have perished. One more reason to stay the hell out of the Bankrupt State of California.

  • um wut

    I don’t understand how this man succeeded in killing himself. Since when does wading out into the water lead to suicide or even a loss of consciousness. Is this water particularly cold or something?

  • Archbishop Walter Dixon

    June 1, 2011 8:05 P.M.

    Archbishop Walter & First Lady Nyoka Dixon of Forgiveness Missionary Church Of Christ, Atlanta, GA Prayer for the family and love ones over the senseless Death of Raymond Zack while emergency responders of Alameda County, CA watched.

    cc: President Barack Obama- President of the United States, Mike Noonan-Chief of Police, Sheldon Gilbert-Fire Chief, Beverly Johnson-Mayor, Governor Jerry Brown and all media outlets.

    Dear God of Eternity,

    Life is precious to each one of us, even though we want to say no to death. We see death as the dark, mysterious enemy that destroys the good that you have created.

    Lord why didn’t the fire and police rescue units of Alameda County not use their professional life saving skills to stop this death, we will never know. Even thought the county budget was cut, “Lord” when does lack of funding overcome saving a life? May the minds and hearts of the local officials in Alameda County never allow a life to be cut short so soon.

    I pray Father that the local officials would repent of their wicked ways as they stood idly by for more than forty five minutes and watched your child to drown without as much as throwing in a rope to assist in his survival. Father, I pray that the police/EMS would repent because after they allowed Brother Raymond to drown, they asked a citizen that was passing by to go into the lake to retrieve the dead body. Father, please forgive them for such an atrocity.

    Lord whatever our brother Raymond Zack mind, body and soul may have encountered, “Lord” I ask that you send your Angels down from Heaven to aid others that may find themselves in the same position of our beloved brother.

    Help the love ones and family of our beloved brother Raymond Zack to see death as you see it. Not the end but the beginning, not a wall but a doorway, not a dark road but a path that leads to eternal light and life.

    We will miss our brother in “Christ” Raymond Zack, but we thank you, Lord, for memory. May our minds and hearts be filled with the wonderful recollections of his past? Help us “Lord” through our sadness to wear a smile as the passing of time wipes our tears away. Time can be a great physician when it heals the void that we now feel.

    Every life is a gift from you, dear Father. Thank you for sharing the life of Raymond Zack with us. Lord help make his family an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let them sow love. Where there is injury, place in their hear pardon. Where there is doubt, let them have hope. Where there is darkness, let them see light. Where there is sadness, let them have joy.

    O “Lord”, grant that they will be consoled by family, friends and love ones. That they may be understood, as to understand, To be loved, as to love. For it is pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

    In Your Son Jesus name…..Amen.

    Baptist Archbishop Walter Dixon
    Forgiveness Missionary Church Of Christ

    I have posted this prayer on Google, FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube for others to join in prayer.

  • amanda

    I think that this is the most pathetic thing I have ever heard! 75 people WATCHED while this man walked into the water and killed himself….. How ridiculous. Do the people of San Francisco not have a soul? And for the record you idiot emergency personnel… Take off heavy clothing and firearms… swim towards the person…. grab him/her. What else is there to know about rescuing someone…. I bet if it would have been some stupid animal in the water there would’ve been no question….. all 75 people would’ve been in there trying to get it out!

  • FionaBee

    This is sooooo wrong. Those guys who did nothing should be fired. I would NOT want them working in MY city. They may as well have just told everyone, “We didn’t want to get owies and we care more about political correctness than the human lives we’re charged to keep safe.”

  • LMC

    This is an atrocity. Plus, even if it were a child instead of the man who drowned their rules indicate they are not allowed to go into the water to save anyone. So, if it were a child out there in need they would not have been rescued by any city or county resue team nor police. I would like to know if these 75 people watching this man drown in 54 degree waters that took almost an hour for him to die are able to sleep well at night!?! Humanity in this town does not exist. There was no serve and protect here and the tax payers paid these rescue teams and police to stand there and just watch! It is utterly disgusting. — They said beforehand they didn’t have the money to train for water rescues, but now they all of a sudden do???
    People hear about someone attempting suicide and many feel “sure, let them go ahead,” but it is against the law and authorities have a duty to serve and protect regardless of their personl feelings. Most people who commit suicide in public like this want to be talked out of it, they are asking for help but do not how to go about it.
    This incident is extremely unsettling to the core!

  • SK

    No excuse for the lack of timing!! But the loss of consciousness could have been drug induced to make the process faster for this individual in his attempt and completion of his suicide.

  • G. Denis

    I believe the only Good Samaritan was the bystander, who risked his life, to retrieve the drowning victim. Would they have rescued him if he got into trouble. I would say NOT. The almighty $$$ takes precedence over a human life and guess what? Now the Alameda County Fire & Rescue can NOW perform water rescues. Good thing their loved ones weren’t drowning and I guarantee you they would performed their job with or without pay. Where did they find the $$$ to fund water rescues? We better learn to take care of our own. The dept. should read the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10 of the Bible just for recreational reading next time they have time to stand by and watch. Oops I forgot they won’t have time to read the chapter since they can NOW perform water rescues. My bad. Condolences to the family of Raymond Zack.

  • anderbud

    What if Zack was a black man?
    How different would things be.
    The officer in charge that should be looking for a job.
    What about plan b or plan or plan d.
    These police and firefighters had no other other ideas
    We don’t need police and firefighters who are going to sit
    on their ass’s who can’t come up with a plan b when plan a is not an option

  • Andy

    I once lived in Alameda, and there was a neighbor who burned garbage in their backyard and the smoke filled the house and the burning embers were landing on the deck. I called the Alameda fire department and when they arrived their answer to this situation was to get a fan and blow it back on his property it wasn’t their problem. People who know Alameda this Incident will be no surprise to them it’s all about money and greed and dirty politics this is something they can do very well the best day of my life is when I left I pray for the people who accidentally stumbled on the island that they get out safely the whole thing is disgusting beware of Alameda.

  • Alameda Residents ‘Wade-Out’ In Bay To Protest Suicide Response « CBS San Francisco

    […] Raymond Zack waded into the Bay off Crown Memorial State Beach on May 30. First responders said there was nothing they could do since they weren’t properly trained and […]

  • Alameda Residents ‘Wade-Out’ In Bay To Protest Suicide Response | All of California

    […] Raymond Zack waded into the Bay off Crown Memorial State Beach on May 30. First responders said there was nothing they could do since they weren’t properly trained and […]

  • Ex-California Fire Marshal To Investigate Alameda Drowning « CBS San Francisco

    […] The city of Alameda has chosen a former state fire marshal to conduct an independent review of the drowning of a suicidal man at Crown Beach on Memorial […]

  • Ex-California Fire Marshal To Investigate Alameda Drowning | All of California

    […] The city of Alameda has chosen a former state fire marshal to conduct an independent review of the drowning of a suicidal man at Crown Beach on Memorial […]

  • Report Criticizes City Of Alameda In Drowning Death Of Suicidal Man « CBS San Francisco

    […] {{url}}"}};}ALAMEDA (CBS SF) – An independent investigation into the drowning death of a suicidal man while Alameda police officers and firefighters stood by has found that the death was caused by a breakdown in communications and a lack of […]

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