A Florida lifeguard who was fired after leaving his beach zone to save a drowning man has been offered his job back. And has declined the offer.
Tomas Lopez, 21, who was sacked by employer Jeff Ellis & Associates after his heroics Monday at Hallendale Beach, 18 miles north of Miami, should never have been fired, Jeff Ellis told the Sun-Sentinel Thursday.
"I am of the opinion that the supervisors acted hastily, " Ellis said. "It was not the appropriate course of action to take," he said.
But after being offered his job back, Lopez told the Sun Sentinal that he sees that the company is trying to fix the issue, but that "on a personal level I just don't want to work for the company anymore."
The nine other lifeguards, who either quit in solidarity or were fired for stating publicly that they would also do as Lopez did, have been also offered their jobs back, the Sun Sentinal reports. Some of them have also decided to decline.
In the Monday incident, a beachgoer asked Lopez to help a drowning man on an unprotected part of the beach, according to reports. After running to help the victim, Lopez swam toward him, double-hooked him, and brought him ashore. An off-duty nurse tended to the swimmer's water-filled lungs before paramedics arrived.
"I was not supposed to leave my jurisdiction," Lopez told "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning.
It was not until Lopez filled out an incident report that he was fired.
"I'm not going to obey such a ridiculous rule," Lopez continued.
Due to legal liabilities, the company has a policy of firing any lifeguard who rescues someone outside their jurisdiction.
"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," supervisor Susan Ellis initially told the Sun-Sentinel. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."
The rescue victim remains in intensive care.