A drowning man was saved by lifeguard Tomas Lopez earlier this week at a beach in south Florida. The lifeguard was rewarded for his efforts by losing his job. The reason for Lopez being fired was that he left his portion of the beach that his company is paid to guard. The company, Jeff Ellis and Associates, said that Lopez broke the company’s rules and by doing so he could have put other beachgoers in his portion of the beach in danger. Jeff Ellis and Associates is based in Orlando.
Witnesses had already pulled the drowning swimmer out of the water by the time Lopez arrived on scene. An off-duty nurse and Lopez tended to the swimmer until paramedics arrived. The victim was hospitalized and survived the ordeal because of the quick actions by witnesses and lifeguards. Once the incident was over Lopez was fired and four lifeguards quit in support of Lopez.
Just one day after being fired, Lopez was offered his job back but has declined the offer from the company. Lopez claims he was offered an apology from the company and an opportunity to return to his post but said he is going to pursue other job opportunities instead of lifeguarding.
“It’s not out of spite or anything like that,” Lopez said. “It’s not I dislike the company. It’s just I’d rather continue on in my life, finish my schooling, and get on with my life. And find another job.”
The head of the company, Jeff Ellis, said that Lopez was fired too fast. Ellis’ company provides lifeguards for Hallandale Beach. Ellis also said that despite Lopez leaving his post, no portion of his section was left unattended when he assisted with the rescue.
“I am of the opinion that the supervisors acted hastily,” Ellis said.
The company owned by Ellis issued an apology to Lopez and has offered to rehire two lifeguards fired for aiding Lopez in the rescue effort as well as the four lifeguards who resigned in support of Lopez. Renee Crichton, the mayor for Hallandale Beach, said that it is the city’s policy for a lifeguard to respond to an emergency inside or outside of their assigned area.
“The city would like to commend the actions of Mr. Lopez and the other good Samaritans that came to the aide of our near drowning victim,” Crichton said. The two videos embedded in this post feature Lopez after being fired and after being offered his job back as a lifeguard.