ALAMEDA (KCBS) – A group of Alameda residents waded into the Bay on Sunday to demonstrate just how easy it would have been to save an at-risk man bent on suicide on Memorial Day.

53-year-old 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 allowed Zack to drown.

It was later revealed that the Alameda Fire Department had set aside money for such training.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

Rosemary McNally spent 15 minutes in the water on Sunday to make her point.

“I believe something should have been done,” she said. “I want to show that the water is fairly calm, shallow and warm.”

David Howard helped organize the event and said the drowning is nothing for the city to be proud of.

“It was shocking for a lot of people to hear the statements that Interim Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi made after the incident about budget cuts being a problem,” Howard said. “Those have been proved false. The memo that Chief D’Orazi cited saying there was budget cuts proved to be wrong. At the end of that memo, it says budget funding has been reapproved.”

Alameda officials have remained silent on the issue as demands for an independent investigation grow.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (25)
  1. Keith Chamberlain says:

    Shame on you Alameda police department and fire department. No heroes in Alameda

  2. Julie Johnsen says:

    I think they should fire all the men and women from all the departments that were there. Really, I wouldn’t want any of those people coming to my rescue. They’ve already proven themselves to be untrustworthy to chose my life over politics.

  3. Survcast Evangelist says:

    There is a survey on Survcast on the policy of the fire and police departments that prohibited them from helping Raymond Zack: <-Would you have rescued him?

  4. Rhonda Leabo says:

    Bravo to the people that did this. I have been following this story since it occurred. I hope we all, including the citizens of Alameda, call the police and fire department to the mat on this one. It was just so wrong on many leves.

  5. Jay Johnsen says:

    I think it is so sad that they let the man drown. If I were there I would have jumped right in. Wouldn’t give it a second thought.

  6. Mike Henneberry says:

    So much second guessing, so many experts on water rescue that can’t swim. Did this group take to the water to promote an investigation? No the mayor’s done that, they did this to take advantage of a tragedy to promote their political agenda. Disgusting.

    1. Denise Lai says:

      Mike: Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no political agenda here. Or haven’t you heard? Suffering and death are agnostic. We all need our first responders to, well, respond. And when they do, we should be better off for it. Far too many times, with the AFD, we have not. Why aren’t you equally upset? Don’t you realize that you and those you love are at risk for being harmed no different than Raymond Zack and his mother were? Shame on you for suggesting politics. Boorish!

    2. Liz Williams says:

      Mike, what is the political agenda you claim I have? You who were at the Gilmore, Tam, Bonta victory celebration and were just appointed to the planning board in last week’s council meeting by your friends – please enlighten us about my political agenda.

      What? Can’t hear you Mike. Must be the sound of your own hypocrisy choking you. So, let me clarify: My agenda is safe, effective fire and police in Alameda.

  7. stmarm says:

    Union shufflebutts.

  8. Dave Howard says:

    Note that Mike Henneberry was appointed to the Alameda Planning Board last Tuesday by Mayor Marie Gilmore.

    In fact, Mike, if you watch all the media coverage on this event, you will see event organizers calling for an independent investigation.

    By the way – just who is Gilmore asking to investigate, and when will it begin?

  9. Allison Martin says:

    Just goes to show that the City is keeping its own lackeys on the comiittees, i.e. Henneberry. Yeah when is this “transparent” investigation going to start?

  10. Rosemary says:

    Mr. Hennenberry–

    To answer your question:

    “Take to the water” is exactly what we did. We literally took to the water to investigate depth, temperature, and distance.

  11. Mike Henneberry says:

    On June 7 the Alameda City Council unanimously called for an independent investigation. Today’s theatrics capitalizing on a tragedy, for all involved, were uneeded if the purpose was to “call for an investigation.” Next time you go to the beach instead of getting in the water why don’t you try to walk on it\?

    1. Dave Howard says:


      I didn’t really think you’d make me post the pictures showing yourself posing for photos with the firefighter union leaders, and Mayor Gilmore, and Councilmember Tam, at their Nov 2nd, 2010 election night victory party. But it’s clear you’re not going to be satisifed until I do. So here you go.

  12. Rosemary says:

    Mr. Henneberry,

    Please tell us who will do the “independent investigation”
    Reveal their full connections to anyone and everyone in city hall, the fire department, the police department, any unions connected to them, any legal firms, and any contributors to any one in city hall.

  13. Liz Williams says:

    Wow, Mike, your comments get less substantive the more you post. Soon you’ll be positively spitting. Answer Rosemary and Dave Howard, Mike. When does the investigation start, and who is doing it? Better yet, who are they connected to at City Hall? What is that connection?

    Why don’t you answer us, Mike?

  14. Amanda D says:

    I am really confused, maybe because I am not from Alameda, I don’t understand your way of thinking. Why didnt any of the “bystanders” jump in, like the guy who videotaped it… Quit acting holier than thou if you didn’t make an attempt to help him. Didn’t a woman jump in after he already drown to pull his body back in? Why didnt she jump in before? If you want to play the blame game, blame the people standing around, the guy for wanted to commit suicide in the first place, then blame the police officers, you’ll have all your bases covered. I’m glad you guys all stood out in the water, you proved your point…standing in this water is pretty easy so how could have this guy drowned, right? He wanted to commit suicide, he got his wish.

  15. Chris B says:

    Wow Amanda D no remorse for human life what so ever. People become depressed and they do not think clearly, so for you saying he got his wish? Really??? Maybe if someone would of saved him he would of had a new perspective on life and could of helped others who have felt the way he had. And do you really think a bystander would try to jump in the way of a fire fighter or a police officer?? Be realistic here

  16. Amanda D says:

    Chris, I understand that you think i was coming off as harsh but being realistic is exactly what I was doing. If the bystanders were so appauled by this, then they would have acted on it themselves. Obviously the firefighters and police weren’t in the way if they weren’t in the water. What right do we have to tell someone they can’t kill themselves? If someone is terminally ill, bed ridden or deeply depressed, why are we allowed to say, too bad, you have to live like that? Onto a better question though, what if one of these protesters would have drowned during their “wade-out”?

    1. Liz Williams says:

      Amanda – one of the points the protestors were trying to make is how very difficult it is to die at Crown Beach. If any of us had been there, we would have waded in to talk to Mr. Zack, but we weren’t there. Many Alamedans who were there are asking themselves why they didn’t do anything. It’s a good question,and one I hope that prompts us all to not make this mistake again.

      As for allowing someone to kill themselves, sure, that’s a good idea in theory. But the research I’ve seen on suicide pegs it as a bad decision in a bad moment, and not the act of self-mercy you make it out to be. We’ll never know about Raymond Zack: no one got close enough to ask him.

  17. Chris B says:

    I understand what you are saying completely, but no one truly knows why this man was trying to kill himself, but in all of this its the police or firefighters job to make an attempt not to just sit out and watch. because what if there were kids watching and saw them standing around doing nothing. I have friends on the police force where i live and i know that the reason they joined was to save peoples lives and make a difference. If any of those men would of had that mentality we wouldnt even be talking about this now

  18. Rosemary says:

    Yes. The Death of Raymond Zack has so many facets to it. One which I have not seen discussed is this:

    What example does this set for kids? Is this what we want them to learn?

  19. Joe Smith says:

    What about all the people who witnessed this? Why didn’t they go into the water and rescue the man? They should have.

    1. Dave Howard says:

      Because they though the authorities were going to do something.

      Both Sharon Brunetti, who made the 9-1-1 call, and her husband, have said publicly and/or on TV that they regret not going in themselves having seen the outcome.

      Other people have suggested that if the police and fire department weren’t going to do anything, they should have left the scene, to not give the impression that they were taking action, and to allow other people to act.