An Alameda County judge today, Monday, dismissed the lawsuit against the City of Alameda filed by the brother and sister of Raymond Zack, who drowned off Crown Beach in May 2011 as city firefighters and police stood by.
Superior Court Judge George Hernandez found that "under the circumstances presented, there was no moral blame attendant to the conduct of responding officers and firefighters."
The wrongful death suit against the city was filed last May by Robert Zack, Bernice Jolliff and the Estate of Raymond Zack.
In a reported suicide, Raymond Zack, 52, had gone about 150 yards into the water at Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach on May 30.
At the time of Zack's death, fire and police personnel at the scene did not attempt a rescue. They waited for the arrival of a U.S. Coast Guard rescue boat, but that boat could not reach Zack in the relatively shallow water. His body was eventually brought to shore by a civilian bystander.
The Alameda Fire Department's water rescue program had lapsed, its boats in disrepair and its rescue swimmers uncertified for lack of recent training. Under the department's written policies, uncertified swimmers were not allowed to enter the water to attempt rescue operations, a standard policy for virtually all agencies with water rescue programs in California.
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Zack was so distraught that he took his own life," City Attorney Janet Kern said in a statement following today's court ruling. "However, the ruling amounts to a finding that the responding police officers and firefighters acted reasonably and diligently in what was undeniably a very difficult situation."
The judge's ruling is attached to this article.