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 tied to earlier budget cuts 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.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that the man, later identified as Raymond Zack, spent nearly an hour in the water before he drowned.
According to reports, first responders and about 75 people watched the incident on Monday from a beach in Alameda, a city of about 75,000 people across from San Francisco.
Interim Alameda Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi said that due to 2009 budget cuts his crews did not have the training or cold-water gear to go into the water.
“The incident yesterday was deeply regrettable,” he said Tuesday. “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.”
But Tuesday night, after hearing from angry residents at a City Council meeting, the city promised to spend up to $40,000 to certify 16 firefighters in land-based water rescues, KGO-TV reported.
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