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.