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June 1st, 2011
01:49 PM ET
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Steve McCarthy

    So the cops are immune from civil liability for not exercising a discretionary task under Gonzales v. Castle Rock 545 U.S. 748 (2005), but you'd think they could've at least called or texted the Coast Guard, which, incidentally, has a facility in Alameda, including all kinds of rescue equipment and trained personnel.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  2. Dave

    Ok ENOUGH. You want to keep cutting the PD and FD Budgets. You get what you pay for. I am retired after 30 years on the job. My Chief dictates policy BASED on the city council. I am on shore, watching, as an employee of the city/town. I set foot in, I lose my job. This wasnt an accident, it was premeditated. I would have stayed put. My family My career matter too.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  3. Ed Ferrugiari

    The key word here is TRAINING. If you are not a certified life guard you would be a fool to go in the water and try to save someone. The next time your at the beach, jump in the water with a sweat shirt on and try swimming 25 yards. Dont believe everything you see in the movies and on TV. Real life is a whole lot different.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  4. Andrew Karp

    This is a sad story. I used to live very close to where the drowning occurred and am familiar with the area.

    I am wondering why CNN has not contacted the East Bay Regional Parks and Recreation District, which has primary jurisdiction over the area where the drowning took place? Were they not called to the scene, too?

    Another person notes correctly that the US Coast Guard has a large administrative operation in Alameda, but it is not very close to where the drowning took place. They also have SAR (Search and Rescue) operations at other points around the bay area and might have been able to respond by helicopter.

    Something about this story is not right, and it may take some more digging around with others besides the City of Alameda Police and Fire Depts to get to the bottom of it.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  5. Mike Nichols

    Why did they not call the USCG? There is a USCG station minutes away? This is a crime and should be prosecuted as such.

    June 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  6. John

    Do not forget, we are a nation of laws. Therefore, they did not enter into the water as it was a policy issue. When I hear people misusing freedom of speech in spreading hatred in talk radio, I knew one day this will come.

    June 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  7. Donna May Evans

    Was the Man a Veteran?

    June 1, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  8. Tray Morgan

    All he's doing is making one excuse after another. Then he says the policy has been changed to now they can act...they know they're going to get taken to the cleaners when this guys family nails them in court for allowing their family member to die. If it smells like bullshit, then it probably is!

    June 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  9. Barbara Johnson

    Dear God...May I hope that no 'policy' will prevent someone from attempting to save a life. How disgusting it is to listen to this fire chief...as he rationalizes away the reasons no one went to the aid of the man.

    It shows the amount of courage/integrity/compassion the first responders have. Poor little frustrated men...just couldn't make a decision in a life and death situation.

    I am absolutely appalled.

    June 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  10. CC Lyda

    As a trained nurse in rescue work I can't imagine there weren't trained nurses there as well who would have told the firemen to put rescue mode in effect. These are all just a bunch of people who don't know what the hell they are doing. I know the government is going down the tubes but the fire and police too??

    June 1, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  11. Majd

    Let alone calling the Coast Guard, for the sake of humanity one of the firefighters couldn't jump in to save this emotionally destruct man. It is sad and pathetic to face the reality being that these fire fighters didn't have the decency nor the ability to perform an act of heroism which any other "citizen" should have and would have performed. I'm sure the heroes who lost their lives on September 11 could have walked away but reality has proven the exact contrary. Civil liability should be implemented on every citizen of this country let alone those who serve the people and country.

    June 2, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  12. Dee in New Paris OHIO

    I have to wonder if those who think this is just so awful could possibly also be those who gripe about the U.S. being a "nanny" state.

    At some point people have to take charge of their own lives! If that man wanted to kill himself isn't it being a 'nanny' stopping him? Especially as possibly there were no responders who were TRAINED in SWIMMING out in the surf to rescue a human being?

    Maybe it is sad for the family of the man. But HE was the nut in this case.

    Maybe the way to do this properly would be to take the names of all who find this story horrible, and who think the responders should have gone out and saved the guy, and collect money from them to be put into some kind of holding account for the express purpose of PAYING for the next rescue! I don't want MY tax dollars going to save some crackpot. If others do, then send some extra money!

    June 2, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  13. Udo4Accept

    so here we get 1/2 the story as usual from cnn. what was this crime scene? why were they concerned that the guy was armed? does the video comes in after 1/2 of the story has been told? and if the guy was a criminal and there was concern that he was armed, then good. one less thing to worry about. but the video doesn't even mention that side of it. terrible clip and story.

    June 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  14. John

    Hey as long as these so called 'Firemen' are willing to sit and watch one of their own family members or close friends die because of some idiotic law then I'm ok with that. However I know that would never be the case

    But lets get serious. These idiots should be fired, plain and simple.

    June 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  15. UNION LOSERS

    Alameda COPS, and FIREMEN equal just one thing, UNION LOSERS.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:48 am |
  16. Kev

    Why was the man in the water in the first place and why was the area deemed a crime scene? The video says nothing of why or how the man ended up in the water in the first place. Before we condemn the firefighters, shouldn't we know the full story?

    June 3, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  17. David Edwards

    Hey UNION LOSERS....What is your job? What is your annual salary? You ever put your life on the line for a $35,000 a year job? We protect lives and property....but if the police tell us it is a crime sceen they are in charge.
    Also, I agree with Ed....You have one victim in the water....Fire Fighters are not trained surf conditions that I am aware of. So you would most likely end up with other victims in the surf.
    Also....As usual the whole story is not here. Just another story for the news channels to hipe up and have something to talk about so they can sit behind the cameras all day and not know what it is like to actually WORK a full day of labor!!
    As for the victims family? Iam sorry they lost a love one, but I believe this man WAS TRYING TO KILL HIMSELF......
    Since when is it the fire department or the police departments task to prevent anyone from taking their own life?

    June 3, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  18. Unbelievable

    I believe it was considered a crime scene because his intention was to kill himself. His behavior was reckless, he was intentionally trying to harm himself. These firefighters have families – children, spouses, parents who depend on them. They did not have equipment to rescue this person who, given the fact that his intention was to die, might have fought anyone who swam out there and taken them down with him. The lesson here is – don't try to kill yourself and expect other people to save you! If this guy's family gets even one penny from the fire department. I will be completely disgusted.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  19. Barfy Spewsalot

    Where is Gage & DeSoto when you need them? How anyone could watch as a bunch of cops MURDER someone is beyond me. Were these so called firefighters held at gunpoint? Id hate to be a cop in that city after this. I can see it now the fire department sitting arouns as two cops die in an accedent... After all it was a crime scene right?

    June 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  20. Richard L.Payne

    There is not an excuse on this for this to happpen with that many first responders watching, i heard in the report that 9 were watching 4 responders could have saved him i'm assuming that at least 4 of them can swim, when a human is drownding whether it's suicide or not it's all the same THEY PANIC! life guards and people who are not life guards have been saving people for decades in the same situation..as a first responder and past life guard myself there is a saving procedure called the under water approach thats when you swim towards the victim go down in the water before you touch them and come up behind the victim and procede with your arms around his arms and chest, usually the victim calms down..it works!..this is not rocket science..NO EXCUSES!!!

    June 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  21. Kevin

    Ok, the guy can tread water for an hour within sight of land. Report says initial concerns were that he might have had a gun. Anybody who can tread water for an hour can easily swim ashore from the distance out that he was. There's more to this story that we aren't hearing folks...

    June 5, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  22. Beyond DISGUSTED

    You are supposed to be Heros not Zeros, real MEN would of saved that man then dealt with the legal issues afterwards, that is what REAL MEN do! To stand by and witness (without helping) proves you are not true men. I would love to meet each and every one of you so I could punch you as hard as I could in the face! Thanks for ruining my day and even more so thanks for ruining that guys life by sitting on the shoreline sucking your thumbs. For future reference maybe ask some REAL PEOPLE men and woman who are not scared and trapped by the legal ramifications ( so IE, the general population with a pulse ) to do what you CHOSE not to do. I believe a human life is worth saving , but after reading this article for all involved in this are not worth saving at all.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  23. Bunny Olesen

    so what, they were scared so they let him die? It was a crime scene so this guys life was not as important as the crime scene?

    what a load of crap. the cops and firemen are SUPPOSED to risk their lives.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  24. Mr. Storms

    Psychology calls it the "observer effect". Also, Search & Rescue teams, USCG, military, PD, FD – none of these teams can be successful in an environment where commands are questioned. These rules that some of you are holding against the first responders now, are the very same rules that have saved countless lives before. Don't be too hard on the subordinates, whether they should have disobeyed a direct order or not to save this guys life.

    Those in charge, on the other hand, should be fired and prosecuted. Any and every good idea in this forum should have been examined by those in charge. A man died, maybe because the USCG wasn't called?? And you're telling me divers couldn't approach this guy from underwater? To check for weapons first? They could have even restrained him first underwater, then supported him with flotation devices. Something...

    June 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  25. John W

    Hah, I wonder if police departments should even have policies at all, seems all they tend to do is let innocent people die, or break into houses on the flimsiest of evidence and gun down veterans.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  26. Sue

    How can anyone judge when all the facts clearly are not presented here? The guy in the water could easily have drowned anyone trying to go out and "rescue" him since clearly he wanted to be in the water. Sending untrained swimmers out for a water rescue involving an uncooperative person is a recipe for disaster.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  27. STUPIDLAWS

    This is a prime example of how AMERICAN became HEARTLESS. I understand the law and I understand that you cannot swim while in full gear. I understand that you will drown if you are not trained and thus putting more people in danger. So bottom line, WHAT ABOUT EVERYBODY ELSE? You can't get any help from a city with population of over 2 mil? No coast guard or anything? Seriously, this is STUPID!! Well, welcome to United States of freaking MORONS!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  28. keepyourtrapshutuntilyouknowthefullstory

    Why don't all you bleeding hearts keep your traps shut until you know the full story? I work with a search and rescue team in my home town. We are not allowed into certain places/situations until it is deemed safe for entry. WHY should rescue personnel die to save a life? Is that a better outcome? I think not! I don't know the full story, so I can not judge the actions, or lack thereof, of those on scene. I'm sure they are all good people, or they wouldn't be in that job in the first place.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  29. waitforthefullstorybeforeyoujudge

    Those of you judging the actions of those who stood and watched should study some law before you talk. We are a nation of laws and breaking those laws can produce some unwanted consequences. One example is a case i read a while back where a guy saves a person from a burning car . The survivor finds out that they are paralyzed and sues the rescuer and wins the case. Yes a mans life was at stake but the risks were far too great for them to jump in.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  30. joshua

    Makes me really sick to my stomach, I will be sure never to swim in the water in San Francisco. I have never felt such anger towards the cops or fireman like i do today. Make your excuses to sleep at night, or whatever you need to do. Looks like we need to remove some police and firemen.

    June 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  31. joshua

    This is comment for waitforthefullstorybeforeyoujudge,
    You should be glad you weren't in the water. You would be dead.

    June 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  32. joshua

    But you have a very good point. This country has things backwards. Kind of makes me sad.

    June 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  33. medicnurse

    Those of you that are not in a public safety job need to understand a few concepts. First of all the rescuers safety comes first. If there is any question as to the mental status of the individual in need of being rescued, the rescuer can become the victim. I have witnessed first hand a firefighter and fellow paramedic become a victim after jumping into the water to rescue a man that had kidnapped his 2 year old son. The little boy was also in the water and the crews were trying to save the child as well as talk the man down. The 2 year old was released, the father was shot by police and the firefighter came very close to losing his life. Don't let the "media spin" on a situation make you jump to conclusions. The chief clearly says more than once that this was a crime scene so only part of the information is available here.

    June 13, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  34. Terri

    The people who are criticizing this unfortunate incident are ones who have no experience in emergency services and have no knowledge of procedure. Lifeguards, Fire Fighters, Police, EMTs all have it drilled into their heads during the first day of training (in a classroom, not even in the field yet); that the #1 priority when making the decision to enter a scene is to check for hazards. That means, people, environment and/or anything else that might cause themself harm. If there is, you do not approach (unless you have the right equipment to do so).
    Usually in lifeguard techniques, you throw people a line (floatation device) and pull them to safety. In this case, where the scene belongs to the police department because it was a CRIME SCENE – you don't know who is a danger. yes, you want to save people but before you worry about saving others, you must consider if that victim is a hazard to you FIRST. Period. Period. Period.
    It doesn't make it right, but that is how we are all trained. The only thing worse than 1 dead person is 2 dead people cause someone was stupid and tried to rescue another when the situation was against them and they weren't proprly equipped. The only people who are told to completely disregard their safety to save others, are soldiers.
    If anyone thinks they can do a better job or knows how things should run, please, please PLEASE do apply for the job yourself.

    June 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  35. Dave

    Everyone involved needs to be fired. There are thousands of honest women and men that would have disregarded a policy to save the man. You are telling me the legal ramifications would have been worse than the man dying? Get these idiots off the federal and state teet.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  36. Christine

    Two firefighters died last week putting out a house fire in San Francisco. I don't see Suzanne Malveaux commending them on CNN!!! Suzanne Malveaux is inexcusable the way she attacked the fire chief . Firemen are trained for on-land rescue. The weight of their uniforms alone would have only caused another death in the water. Where was the coastguard or a lifeguard? Do you think the firefighters feel good about this? I'm not a firefighter but I do feel they are being unfairly attacked in this story.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  37. Alex

    No it isnt the jobs of first responders and emergency services to brake protocall that is in place to save and protect the lives of the workers. First responders and emergancie services save people everyda an citizens, to us this is horribal to them its another day at the office. The protocal is there to keep individuals safe and to keep the public safe. Yes a man lost his life, yes it is a shamefull thing to have people sit and watch and you can attack them as people but you cannot attack them for paying attention during the policys and procedure meetings.

    Sincerely
    Alex R.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  38. brianNH

    This is the second incident like this in the last couple weeks.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  39. Joe Schmoe

    keepyourtrapshutuntilyouknowthefullstor :
    Well what a fine search and rescue person you are. Cant go in if you may get a boo boo... Perhaps you should swap careers and go work at the doll factory.

    June 13, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  40. B

    I'll be interested to see how this pans out as I'm sure this is going to unfold ... in not a good way.

    I am disappointed with the SF FD.

    I see both side of the story that has been presented so for, but I keep coming back to one fact.

    The SF FD did not appear to be faithful to their own values:
    1st of several is "The public's trust and the opportunity to serve"

    June 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  41. JB

    There is more to this story than this clip presents. I am a park ranger from a family of police and firefighters, and I can say without doubt there are facts missing here. What we know so far are these basics: The first rule in providing aid is to keep yourself safe. You are of no service to anyone if you jump in haphazardly, without proper plan and eqipment, and become a victim yourself. Secondly, there was the man's unstable mental history. He deliberately went into the water on his own volition and could have been armed or wanting to take a rescuer down with him. Third, there is a chain of command and jurisdictions to be followed.

    My guess is the lack of assistance to this man came from the second factor, his mental instability. Regardless of which agency was in charge, no commanding officer sends rescuers into this sort of scenario without confirming whether the man is armed or not. He may have also made threats to rescuers that have not been revealed yet.

    While it is sad and distressing to watch, remember that you don't know the facts. Those who judge clearly have never done the job and do not understand what it entails, and that we cannot save them all. No one does this for the money or appreciation. Lord knows there is little of either. Some of these ignorant comments prove that point!

    June 14, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  42. Mike

    Thank goodness the interim fire chief has recognized and changed an ineffective policy.

    For those who defended the old policy, shame on you. I hope you are not employed as public servants in the capacity of policemen or firemen. These are positions in which the public are relying on heroes not frightened cowards.

    If one is an officer who is frightened that a victim may have a weapon while treading water and fighting for their life, then don't move from behind the desk, then get into a squad car to respond to an emergency, because you will be too terrified to do your duty.

    If as an officer you are too frightened to do the right thing because you are terrified to lose your job, then you are experiencing the same evil lack of conscious that many German soldiers experienced in WWII. The public is not looking for such weak types to serve them.

    To the Alameda fire department - thank you. A mistake in policy was made, but you were strong enough to recognize it and change it immediately. Thank you for doing such.

    June 15, 2011 at 5:11 am |
  43. Joe

    It’s just another sad example of how civil service union people
    Don’t care about anybody but themselves, and their civil service
    hand out jobs. Amazing how you can stand there and do nothing.

    June 15, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  44. ckbabs

    What a horrible tragedy and my prayers to the family.... But I am guessing these firefighters aren't trained in water rescue. I was a life guard and I can tell you, rescuing someone in still waters is a challege and that's WITH training. Rescuing someone in an ocean, without training is incredibly dangerous. A flailing victim fighting the rescuer could very easily take that person down with them. As a lifeguard we even trained for that because it's so common with a panic victim. To question the integrity of the fire force is inappropriate at this time. They put their lives on the line daily for strangers. But they were smart enough to recognize that this situation was incredibly dangerous given the circumstances.

    June 15, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  45. mave

    If it was a matter of "policy" and loosing their jobs, then they ALL should have gone in, and dealt with the reprocusions later! What a disappointment! This is a matter of being a decent human being, not following policy!!! SHAME on all those men!

    June 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  46. Lois

    Further in this story " ...an unidentified 20-year-old woman ultimately entered the water and retrieved Zack’s body about 150 yards from shore..." Sheesh. Those guys are an embarrasment!

    June 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  47. melissa mitchell

    this is so disgusting. the legally obligated tax payer supported rescuers let a man die. they should all be totally ashamed of themselves and pray none of their family members ever have need of "professional" rescuers to help them in any circumstance! I cannot believe any human being would let this happen! so my belief is that none of these individuals are human. maybe they should all jump off the bridge. you people are sick pigs!

    June 17, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  48. Roy Boate (Canada)

    Assess the scene.
    Do not put yourself in harms way.
    A person in distress has the RIGHT to REFUSE help under law.
    YOU may be held legally liable, (and in the United States lose your house), if you ATTEMPT TO ASSIST someone who doesn't want assistance.

    Unfortunately, policies end up reflecting that, and this is the result.

    June 17, 2011 at 5:33 am |
  49. Jennifer

    I dont care what excuse they make God help the souls that left that man died. They better repent, and remember they should be tried as murders excuses and excuses does not excuse any of it.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  50. AquestionforRoyBoate

    RoyBoate, Thanks for your well informed post. But I have one follow up question for you. If what you say is correct, how could the chief change the policy immediately after the event?

    June 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  51. neonurse

    I agree whole heartedly with their decision to NOT go in the water... I am a nurse and have dedicated my life to saving people too but I dont stop at accidents because I am not trained to do so. I do not feel that we know the whole story, but under any circumstances do not feel that they should have gone in and attempted to save that mans life if they are not trained to do so. Never mind that it was a crime scene...?!

    June 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  52. Marc B

    As a former firefighter, I agree with all those saying that this story is not presenting all the facts – Not from the scene itself, nor is it giving the fire (or police) service a fair shake.

    First rule of rescue work: Never, EVER turn a rescue situation from a one victim scenario into a two victim scenario.

    To those who say "FF's are SUPPOSED to risk their lives" – You put on the bunker gear, folks, then you can talk about what you're supposed to do and what you're not.

    I can almost guarantee you the firefighters on scene all returned home tonight feeling extremely badly. This wasn't laziness, protecting jobs or hard-core unionism. This was common sense, following chain of command (both internally, as well as control-of-scene) and avoidance of making a bad situation worse.

    Those insulting the FFs should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  53. Nessa

    The point is, if my 4 year old had fallen in the water by MISTAKE, they still would not have tried to save her.

    June 20, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  54. CJM

    If they aren't going to rescue someone in a situation such as this, then why consider themselves as 'first responders'? This is deplorable and inexcusable. I guess we can all be happy this is not the quality of first responders in NYC when Sept 11 occurred-one can only imagine how much more horrible that situation would have been. And, yes, the attack on the twin towers was also 'a crime scene,' but who cared when so many lives were at stake.

    June 20, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  55. JF

    Fortunately, the brave firefighters were saved by a 20-ish female nurse who swam out, attempted to save the man, and retrieved the body. Those waiting on the full story should just google it as its 3 weeks old. The water was too shallow for a boat, so the coast guard couldn't get involved. Almeda, an island city, had cut its water rescue program, so no one was properly trained. However, the fire chief admitted in an off duty situation that he knew how to perform the rescue, but that while on duty he would be forced to watch.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  56. wonetah

    Dang this is the first time I have ever been ashamed of firefighters BOO!

    June 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  57. Rob Close

    Here is why the family can successfully sue the city:

    The Police & the Firefighters are claiming that they knew they couldn't help. However, they had an hour to call the Coast Guard, who they should have known could help. An hour! The Coast Guard would have made it well before then.

    If you know you can't help, you have a responsibility to call someone who can. The moment they got this call, the Coast Guard should have been alerted. Disaster avoided.

    Instead, the man treads water for an hour! An hour! And still we know nothing as to why this is a "crime" scene.

    CNN – ask all the hard questions, c'mon!
    1) Why was this considered a crime scene?
    2) Why wasn't the Coast Guard called immediately?

    June 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  58. Linda

    I truly hope that if I'm ever in life threatening trouble that a better class of "first responder" is there to help me. Yeah, guys...hide behind the "policy" if that helps you sleep better.

    June 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  59. Common Cents

    Not sure if he was armed or not? Is this a common occurrence?

    A dude treads water for an hour or so with the intention of luring cops to swim out to him so he can shoot them with his harpoon gun.

    Another tragedy that could have been avoided had the cops simply done nothing.

    June 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  60. Katherine

    we are all human beings and deserve to live no matter what we done.God will judge us all one day but to hear that the people that are suppose to serve and protect get to choose who they protect is unexuseable to me . what kind of person watch's a man drowned because they dont feel it's safe for them is crazy.What kind of a conscience do you have?YOU took the oath to serve and protect that's why we call you is because we trust you and now it makes u wonder is that the call to make when your in trouble? what a tradegy!

    June 21, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  61. Angi B

    I'm really confused by this....isn't there a "Good Samaritan" law that says that you are required to attempt to administer aid if a situation warrants it? Now, I'm not saying that any old body should just go jump into the ocean to save someone and put their own life at risk...but firefighters and police officers?? If you have to be so in fear of losing your job that you watch a man (for an HOUR!) drowning and do absolutely nothing...it might be time to consider a different career path. And what oceanside city is going to have a "policy" that keeps it's lifesavers out of the water or whatever exactly the policy was? Regardless of the "policy", I find it disturbing that not one...not ONE(!) of the firefighters or police officers didn't say to hell with it and do what was clearly RIGHT. They should be embarrassed.

    June 21, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  62. Chuck

    If the guy was treading water for over an hour why the hell didn't he just swim to shore himself? Sounds like maybe he was trying to avoid the police or something. Not enough good information to really determine who was to blame here. It was a crime scene (doesn't say why though) and I know I wouldn't go try to rescue someone who is trying to avoid the police and might shoot at you if you got near him.

    June 22, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  63. lp

    He may have been armed...and may have been unstable- REALLY?

    Disgusting...Wonder how they will sleep tonight-and the policy is changed now- didnt help that poor guy-

    June 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  64. jim

    The Good Samaritan laws do not require you to go to anybody's aid. They shield you from liability if you try to save their life (when no qualified people are around) and you screw up and they die.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  65. americanvet

    Being a Combat Vet. we were trained and PAID ($25,000.00)to do our job. Sometimes men disobyed orders to save another human life. It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. If you are afraid to be in that possession get out of that Career. COWBOY UP.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  66. Doug

    If this man was mentally unstable and went into the water the PD and FD would be idiotic to attempt a rescue of an individual who very well could put their lives at risk. How can they be condemned and berated over this! They do alot they no one takes notice of. Was this a desperate child or adult who had fallen in? If so, the situation would of probably been different! The coast guard should of been called and they should of been aware of the facts before attempting to rescue an man who very well could endanger their lives! There is more to the story but right off the bat everyone is finger pointing at the PD & FD. That is wrong. Anytime someone with an illness or mental problem decides to try to end their life it is not up to the PD & FD to risk their life to stop them from taking theirs. That is not expected of these gents.

    June 22, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  67. Steph H.

    It's amazing to me how quick people are to jump to conclusions about the people and the situation in this case, or in any case for that matter. The media does a great job of getting a story partially reported and many then jump in and make snap judgments. None of us were there and none of us know the FACTS. Yes, facts. I will withold judgment until I know, for myself, what took place and why this man was not helped. For now I will thank the men and women who put their lives on the line for the rest of us and not judge them. Obviously we are not willing to do what they do or we'd be doing it rather than making hasty judgments about a situation and circumstances we nothing about. Well, nothing other than a half-heartedly reported story.

    June 22, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  68. JB

    Don't know the whole story. Why was it a crime scene? Why did they think he was armed? Why didn't he swim to shore? He was apparently strong enough totread water for an hour, so I would assume he would be able to swim in. Without the full story, you can't place blame. What if he was armed, and mentally unstable? PD or FD go in after the guy, then he ends up hurting or killing one of them because they are trying to save him when it appears that he doesn't want help. People can complain and say they should've disregarded their policies, but the second something went wrong, the city gov't would have taken action against that employee. You think that this guys family, or anyone else complaining because nothing was done would then step up to help the employee who was being disciplined, or worse, fired for violating dept policy? Instead, we would just be hearing the same story, but with a different twist. The first responders would then be getting bad press and complaints because they acted against policies in place, and something went wrong. Its a bad outcome either way, and I'm sure it would lead to litigation against the city, and employees. In this case, the party that was affected was the one who chose to be in the water, and chose not to come to shore. Still bad because someone lost their life, but it could've ended up with PD or FD being injured or killed also.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  69. JK

    Maybe the cops were on a donut break.

    June 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  70. the_dude

    I live in the area but was not around when this took place. The police and fire departments of alameda county have a sense of entitlemment that would rival any baby boomer sit-in of the sixties. I wonder if they were embarrased when the young lady (private citizen) had to swim out and retrieve the body because the heroes didnt wat tog et wet.

    June 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  71. Chris

    It seems to me that he didn't want to be saved, he stayed out there for an hour, if he was capable of that he should have been capable of swimming back to shore...

    Further, Firefighters are generally not trained for water rescue, as far as I'm aware, and someone untrained should never attempt a water rescue, people who are trained have a hard enough time. And other things about the situations, all of the unknowns, make it clear to me that if someone had gone in and tried to save him they would likely have been turned into a victim as well.

    June 25, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  72. Mike R

    It's sad that people require a payment of money in order to grow a pair and have the courage to go out and save a person's life. Due to what, lack of cents? More like, lack of common sense. Wake up, America. Money IS the root of all evil.

    June 25, 2011 at 5:45 am |
  73. mark

    Oh COME ON!!! You're telling me that in the hour that everyone stood around, SOMEONE couldn't have called the Coast Guard, who are essentially law enforcement on water and are armed if necessary, to assess and rescue. What is this? a jurisdictional pissing contest? What about at least throwing the guy a life vest or preserver if you don't want to approach him directly?? And where the hell is ocean rescue? Couldn't they have been called to at least bring over a boat and maybe a preserver? THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR THIS !!!! If there was a concern about a gun, it would have been wet and not fired anyway. This is flatout negligence on the part of the police and I hope the officers involved are charged with negligent homicide.

    June 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  74. kanehi

    This is a black eye on the PD and FD. It's a poor excuse when they just let the person die in the water. What danger was he while he was in the water? Pass the buck.

    June 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  75. alex

    Guys, relax. Saving somebody in the water is no piece of cake. Like someone already said... I myself, too have been trained in Lifeguarding and Water safety instruction and CPR. It's by no means easy to rescue someone in A POOL, with LIFEGUARD FLOATS and swimsuit. Now, consider how difficult it would be to try to save someone in the SURF. If you're not going to change out of heavy clothes into a lightweight but comprehensive wetsuit (to keep you warm) and get your LIFEGUARD FLOATS, it's safe to say you're chances of rescuing a drowning adult man are close to zero. Basically, if someone is bigger than you, it's really difficult, even with all the right equipment, to save them. Don't be so quick to judge, people... plus, we don't know the whole story of how the man got there in the first place.

    June 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  76. Robb

    a 6'3 300 pound man wades in to the water wanting to commit suicide. How many others should be sacrificed because of his decision, he is solely responsible for the outcome.

    June 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  77. Kristin

    Why was he in the water?? Let's hear the whole story before condemning anyone. He was treading water so he obviously was capable of also swimming back to shore.

    June 28, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  78. NurseNerd

    Ok people, here we go.

    High quality firearms will still go bang when wet, even if submerged. The PD in general is not a rescue agency. The rank and file FD personnel are not trained for water rescue and EVERY FD in the country has a policy prohibiting members from attempting a rescue they are not qualified for. There are specialized units for these situations, but perhaps the unit was tied up on another call. The absence of the coast guard is admittedly puzzling. And I agree with many who've previously stated that there's a lot more here than is being told.

    June 28, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  79. Kip Day

    If it was not in their policy or SOP's and they did enter the water to save this guy and died in the process, the family of the firefighter would have been denied death benfits. Not to mention if the department had no certification on water rescue the department could've gotten in trouble. This man was bent on dying, he chose to go in the water and it is a sad situation for all parties involved, but sometimes there is nothing that can be done, even if a rescue was attempted it could have costed more lives than just his. My only question is why wasn't the Coast Guard called?
    4 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

    June 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  80. Valerie

    People who are blaming the drowning victim need to get a clue. Someone below asked why the guy was in the water to begin with and why if he was so close to shore that people could see him didn't he just swim in. CLEARLY the idiot who wrote this has never been to CA. This drowning occurred in the middle of summer in CA, there are tons of swimmers at this time of year and any one of them will tell you that random waves can suck you out and under in seconds. Once you are out there, it just keeps pushing your further out. As a CA resident & frequent beachgoer, I have experienced this before. This incident was tragic and I pray for this man's soul and for his family. I just can't imagine the thoughts going through his head as he was out there that long 🙁

    June 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  81. Timothy Erwin

    well that sucks. daam the policy. love your neighbor as yourself, treat others as you want to be treated policy is in effect and trumps all other policies.

    June 28, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  82. Stephen Valdes

    It is ridiculous to say they let him die because "he MIGHT have been armed". Coast Guard and harbor patrol boats are armored. Police body armor will stop anything fired from a hand gun. Bottom line, we pay first responders to risk their lives. You telling me that it was more dangerous for a fireman to ride out to that guy than it is for that same fireman to enter a residence that is engulfed in flames? How many firemen have been murdered by the people they tried to save? HOW MANY? A lot fewer than the number that died fighting fires, that's for sure.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  83. D

    they couldn't have thrown out a life preserver or a life jacket? surely there were plenty of those around.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  84. batgirl

    When good men do nothing, evil prevails.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  85. matt

    Policy? we need to hire real heros not these wimp ass ones. Look at Columbine, they sat outside and waited while the shooting went on, the aircraft crash in the Potomac River years ago, a bystander had to jump in as the fireman stood there looking stupid. Sorry to say this but do you think the 9/11 fireman would have went in if they knew the tower was going to collapse? Then when the first tower did collapse they ordered all the fireman to evacuate the second one. Every year people drown in the L.A. river and the attempts at rescue are shamefull. I can go on, but don't call them all heros, save that for the real acts.

    December 17, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
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