Raymond Zack

Updated at 5:42 p.m. Monday, February 11

An Alameda County Superior Court judge will dismiss a lawsuit claiming the city was responsible for the Memorial Day 2011 drowning death of Raymond Zack off the shore of Robert W. Crown State Beach.

Judge George C. Hernandez Jr. ruled Monday that the city didn’t have a legal duty to rescue Zack from San Francisco Bay or to purchase a rescue boat, train and certify firefighters for water rescue or call other agencies for help. He said the city had until February 19 to draft a dismissal order for the case.

Attorneys representing the city are asking an Alameda County judge to throw out a wrongful death suit filed by the siblings of Raymond Zack, who drowned in San Francisco Bay on May 30, 2011 as Alameda police and firefighters and dozens of beachgoers watched.

In a July 18 court filing, the city’s attorneys say local police and firefighters didn’t have a legal responsibility to prevent Zack’s apparent suicide attempt and that their primary responsibility that day was to protect themselves and the public. And they’re saying Zack’s attorneys have failed to make an actionable case.

We were driving to a Memorial Day picnic when I heard the helicopter, its blades frantically casting aside the blue midday sky in its quest to rescue a man from the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay.

I was a woman without a country, having shuttered my former news venture a month earlier. But that did not make me want to know what was happening on the beach that helicopter was hovering so close to any less. “Turn around,” I told my husband, directing him to a parking spot far enough from the police cars on the beach that the kids couldn’t see whatever had brought them all there. I hopped out and slogged across the warm, thick sand.

UPDATE 10:00 a.m. Friday, May 25: An investigator working for the Zack family's attorneys said he has filed the suit.

The siblings of an Alameda man who drowned off Robert W. Crown State Beach last Memorial Day as dozens of public safety officials and bystanders watched are filing a lawsuit against the city and Alameda County.

The suit, a copy of which was obtained by the Alameda Community News Project in advance of an anticipated court filing on Friday, accuses Alameda police and fire managers who handled the drowning of failing to call in the resources needed to rescue Zack and of discouraging bystanders from rescuing him, both actively and by just being present on the beach, endangering his life due to alleged negligence.

On the afternoon of May 7, just a few weeks before the tragic anniversary of the drowning death of Raymond Zack, Alameda police and firefighters responded to a call of swimmers in distress less than a half mile from where the 53-year-old Alameda man died.

Within minutes, police were on the beach, and despite a lack of water rescue training, they stripped down and entered the shallow Bay water, buoys and bags in hand. Water-trained firefighters showed up shortly after that, rescuing the swimmers and transporting them to the local hospital.