Florida lifeguard fired for leaving his assigned post to rescue a drowning man

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Hallandale Beach Lifeguard Stand. Source: CNN video screenshot

Tomas Lopez. Source: CNN video screenshot

A Florida lifeguard who was fired after leaving his post to save a drowning man has decided he doesn’t want his job back.

“On a personal level, I just don’t want to work for that company anymore,” said Tomas Lopez, 21, of Davie, Florida.

Lopez was fired by Jeff Ellis Management, which is under contract with the city of Hallandale Beach to provide lifeguard protection along the beach, which is north of Miami and south of Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic Coast. The firm said Lopez left the area to which he was assigned to save a man in an area where swimmers are warned that there is no lifeguard on duty and they are swimming there at their own risk.

Lopez leaped to the rescue after a beach-goer notified him of the man in trouble in an area that turned out to be about 1,500 feet outside his assigned zone. Company supervisors said that left other swimmers in Lopez’ assigned area in danger, so they fired him for leaving his station and violating strict company rules. Company officials later said they determined that the area never was left completely unattended, as other lifeguards covered for Lopez when he left his station.  Company owner Jeff Ellis said supervisors acted hastily in firing Lopez on the spot.

Lopez said he never hesitated about rescuing the man, who was later treated at a hospital and released.

The firing triggered a flood of media coverage that led to the firm offering Lopez his job back. Lopez, however, was having none of it. “They are trying to fix the wrong that they did,” he said, according to the Sun Sentinel. Two other lifeguards also were fired after they said they would have done the same thing, and others quit in protest.

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