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More Boats is Not Enough

Dear Editor,

One year ago today, Raymond Zack waded into the Shallow Waters off Alameda’s South Shore Beach and for unknown reasons, lost consciousness & drowned.

Dozens of people, before and since, have waded into those same waters, at the same time of year, and suffered no ill effects. We still don’t know why he died, why his reflexes to keep him from inhaling water did not kick in.

A complete post-mortem to ascertain what medical conditions he might have had or what medications might have been involved has so far not been done. but it seems reasonable to believe that if just one human being had waded out to him and physically put hands on him while he was still alive, this tragedy would have been averted.

Instead, Alameda’s public safety officers stood on the beach looking on, paralyzed by Genovese Syndrome [a.k.a. Bystander Effect], and acted as Public Safety Hazards. Unfortunately, just buying more & better boats is unlikely to address this underlying problem & prevent future untimely deaths.

— Carol Gottstein MD, Alameda

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