An Oakland man drowned Tuesday after he and a friend jumped off the Berkeley Pier as part of a bet to see who was the better swimmer.
According to Berkeley police, the victim, Ernest Allen, Jr., 38, was drinking with friends in Oakland when he bet Markus Mohamed, 52, that he could swim faster.
Lt. Russell Lopes said that as part of the bet, Mohamed wagered his car. The model of the vehicle was not included in the police report. The two men then drove to the Berkeley Marina accompanied by Silvia Gregory, 41. The two men walked about 40 feet out on the pier, jumped in and began to swim toward the shore.
Lopes said Allen immediately encountered trouble because of the 50-degree water. Mohamed tried to assist Allen but was also overcome by the cold water. In an attempt to save Allen, Gregory then jumped from the pier. She too was overcome by the cold and clung to a piling with Mohamed until both were rescued.
A witness called police for help. When police and fire personal arrived at the pier, Allen was floating face down about 40 feet offshore. Officer Andy Mesones and Firefighter Lt. Shane Murbury swam to Allen and brought him back to shore but were unable to resuscitate him, Lopes said. Deputy Fire Chief David Orth said the two safety officers went beyond the call of duty when they dove into the freezing water.
“We do not require our personal to go into the water,” Orth said. “They are not trained for water rescue and they don’t carry water rescue equipment.”
But Orth said the decision to attempt a water rescue is up to each individual officer.
“If the officers hadn’t gone in the water there would likely be a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going and a lot of questions about why they didn’t,” Orth said. Lopes said Mohamed and Gregory were taken to the hospital and were treated and released.