S.F. Bay Fire & Cops Watch Man Drown

JUNE 2, 2011


Fire and police rescue crews stood by — for a full hour — while a man drowned in S.F. Bay. What kind of people are these?

MSNBC reports (the link includes a video):

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”….

Policy? What about plain old human decency? With all the surfers in California, didn’t somebody have a wet suit? I just don’t believe them. They had an hour to figure something out to save this man.

They probably were standing there talking about their padded pensions.

“This just strikes me as not just a problem with funding, but a problem with the culture of what’s going on in our city, that no one would take the time and help this drowning man,” KGO quoted resident Adam Gillitt as saying.

I remember back in 1982, a plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over Potomac River. A blizzard turned the water icy. According to Wikipedia:

Roger Olian, a sheetmetal foreman at St. Elizabeths, a Washington psychiatric hospital, was on his way home across the 14th Street Bridge in his truck when he heard a man yelling that there was an aircraft in the water. He was the first to jump into the water to attempt to reach the survivors.

At the same time, several military personnel from the Pentagon — Steve Raynes, Aldo De La Cruz and Steve Bell — ran down to the water’s edge to help Olian.

He only traveled a few yards and came back, ice sticking to his body. We asked him to not try again, but he insisted. Someone grabbed some short rope and battery cables and he went out again, maybe only going 30 feet. We pulled him back. Someone had backed up their jeep and we picked him up and put him in there.

One of the passengers who survived the crash was Arland D. Williams Jr. His name was not known for some time later. Reported the Washington Post of his heroism, :

He was about 50 years old, one of half a dozen survivors clinging to twisted wreckage bobbing in the icy Potomac when the first helicopter arrived. To the copter’s two-man Park Police crew he seemed the most alert. Life vests were dropped, then a flotation ball. The man passed them to the others. On two occasions, the crew recalled last night, he handed away a life line from the hovering machine that could have dragged him to safety. The helicopter crew — who rescued five people, the only persons who survived from the jetliner — lifted a woman to the riverbank, then dragged three more persons across the ice to safety. Then the life line saved a woman who was trying to swim away from the sinking wreckage, and the helicopter pilot, Donald W. Usher, returned to the scene, but the man was gone.

That’s what humans do. We sacrifice for each other. Without worrying about our pensions. Or the regulations.





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