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VIDEO: Police, Firefighters Watch Man Drown

VIDEO: Police, Firefighters Watch Man Drown

Associated Press

June 01, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO – Fire crews and police could only watch after a man waded into San Francisco Bay, stood up to his neck and waited. They wanted to do something, but a policy strictly forbade them from trying to save the 50-year-old, officials said.

A witness finally pulled the apparently suicidal man’s lifeless body from the 54-degree water.

Interim Alameda Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi said Monday’s incident is troubling. He has directed staff to write a new policy that would allow water rescues in the city of about 75,000 people across the bay from San Francisco.

The previous policy was implemented after budget cuts forced the department to discontinue water rescue training and stop maintaining wetsuits and other rescue gear, D’Orazi said Tuesday.

“The incident yesterday was deeply regrettable,” he said. “But I can also see it from our firefighters’ perspective. They’re standing there wanting to do something, but they are handcuffed by policy at that point.”

A witness, Perry Smith, told a television station the man was visible from the shore of Crown Memorial State Beach and was looking at people.

“We expected to see at some point that there would be a concern for him,” another witness, Gary Barlow, told KGO-TV.

The Coast Guard was called to the scene, but the water was too shallow for a boat, Alameda police Lt. Sean Lynch said. Police officers didn’t have the gear for the cold water and couldn’t risk being pulled under.

“Certainly this was tragic, but police officers are tasked with ensuring public safety, including the safety of personnel who are sent to try to resolve these kinds of situations,” Lynch said.

D’Orazi said crews may have decided it was too risky to attempt the rescue, even if they had not been shackled by the restrictions on water rescues.

In addition to the new policy, Alameda fire personnel will receive training in water rescues, and rescue equipment will be inspected to make sure it is not damaged, D’Orazi said.

There are no lifeguards at the beach, said Isa Polt-Jones, a spokeswoman with the East Bay Regional Park District. Signs at the park advise swimmers to enter the water at their own risk.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

© 2009, YellowBrix, Inc.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    paidnfull

    about 3 years ago

    16 Comments

    sometimes the act of suicide or attempted suicide is a cry for help when all else seems to have failed.

  • Police-dog-5_max50

    leitersr

    about 3 years ago

    26 Comments

    That policy is BULL. They should NEVER have to cut for the peoples saftey. Yes, he should have not done that. What if it was a little kid, just how many of them people would jump in to save him. If some one pulls the money for peoples saftey and that person eather gets hurt or even dies because they cut the budget. Then that person should be put in jailfor what ever happened. Because if someone would say throw another person over a bridge they would get arrested for either atemp or murder.
    So they need to get there heads out of there ass and think more saftey.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Buster10

    about 3 years ago

    258 Comments

    No Matter How You Cut It, Another Black Eye Fpr SFPD, Morale Must Be at An all time Low, Stay Strong Brothers

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    If we go aginst SOP well better find another job... It is sad to see how this ended but I dont think many officers have faith that there dept will back them...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    jlandreth

    about 3 years ago

    106 Comments

    There is an article about this on yahoo news that says due to 2009 budget cuts nobody was trained to perform a shore based water rescue. If the victim was just walking out there, then someone (even one of the civilians) could have followed him out there and tried to pull him back. There were 75+ people standing there counting the police, firefighters, and civilians I doubt that out of those 75+ people no there knew how to get this guy back to shore safely. If he turned out to be violent there were more than enough people to overpower him, and bring him back. Just to stand there and due nothing makes me sick. I know that policy wasn't allowing the firefighters and police to do anything, but they could have at least tried other means (i.e. find a couple of willing civilians they could direct on what to do).

  • Img_0103_max50

    LAWMANTUKES

    about 3 years ago

    6976 Comments

    Huge Bump..!!...sargeNcharge..!!

  • Hg_max50

    2Greazy

    about 3 years ago

    170 Comments

    @Newyork911: Like I said preservation of life...including my own :-)

  • Img_0048_max50

    sargeNcharge

    about 3 years ago

    596 Comments

    i'm really surprised at some of the leo's comments..if a officer violates a policy or directive will the Dept. back him up these days ?? probably not !! for example : if there is a no-chase policy and the officer does so anyway and hits/crashes into someone and there are casualties..will they back him up ? Hmm.. i know it goes against our personal "grains" but who will take care of our children,spouse,loved one,tuition,mortgage,ect.,ect. if we loose our lives/jobs because the Dept/Politicians put the public's safety at risk with their nonsense ?? those fellow servants didn't cause this..the individual and bs policies DID..sometimes there is a difference between going into harm's way and doing something harmful...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ltshamus

    about 3 years ago

    6 Comments

    you take the spare tire from your car wade out there and offer it to him, if he takes it great, if he doesn't you have a barrier to use as protection from him grabbing on to you, but now your dealing w/ an edp who may jtry to take you w/ him... and i'm not gonna let that happen. I tried and did my part but if someone wants to kill themself sometimes you can't stop it, but regardless of policy you have to DO something

  • Respect_max50

    oldtimer322

    about 3 years ago

    360 Comments

    @bill9823....you're right. I have mixed feelinggs about this one....after thinking this one out, I'm sure it was most difficult to have watched....

  • Quickley-b240_max50

    bill9823

    about 3 years ago

    2118 Comments

    As I said in the other article about this, If someone intends on killing themselves they often will take anyone with them that tries to stop them. They will also find another way to do it if stopped.

  • Quickley-b240_max50

    bill9823

    about 3 years ago

    2118 Comments

    Why are there two of these articles???? Nothing else to report????

  • Uniphone1_max50

    batman2944

    about 3 years ago

    738 Comments

    Sad and tragic....

    "Train for the Fight"

  • Respect_max50

    oldtimer322

    about 3 years ago

    360 Comments

    My #1 job is to go home too, but I don't know if I could stand and watch this happen..policy or not.

  • Chesty_max50

    SOARTMAR

    about 3 years ago

    444 Comments

    Ok, I just heard the part about "the man succumbed an hour and a half later” and I have to state, if he lasted an hour and a half, the water was not too cold for someone to just go get him. He was standing up in the water, so obviously there were no tides that were all that difficult to deal with, or he would have been swept away. The man should have been rescued, either by the police, the fire department, or by ANYONE with enough balls to walk in cold water, like that 22 year old 100 lb. girl.

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