HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – A South Florida lifeguard who was fired after saving a drowning man was offered his job back. But he “humbly declined,” Tomas López told the Miami Herald.
He told the paper the company offered a “real good apology” but López decided to take a break from his job and focus on his studies.
López lost his job after he left the section of a south Florida beach his company is paid to patrol. The Orlando-based company, Jeff Ellis and Associates, says he broke a company rule and could have put beachgoers in his section in jeopardy.
"They told me I wasn't suppose to leave my jurisdiction," López told Fox & Friends of the rules the company had ordered him to follow. "I was thinking I'm not going to obey such a ridiculous rule."
The Sun Sentinel reported López was on duty Monday at Hallandale Beach when a beachgoer asked for help. López said he ran to assist a man struggling in the water south of his post.
"I had a guest yelling at me screaming go - someone is drowning just go so I just started running," Lopez said. "I kept running until I finally found the person being dragged up out of the water, I jumped in the water and grabbed him - I just went."
By the time López arrived, witnesses had pulled the drowning man out of the water. López and an off-duty nurse helped him until paramedics arrived. The victim survived and was hospitalized.
Afterward, López was fired.
The company released a statement to Fox & Friends.
"Before making any official statement, we are trying to get in touch with Tomas & everyone else who has quit because of this," said Jeff Ellis, owner of Jeff Ellis and Associates. "We want to hear everyone's story before determining the right course of action. We are concerned with the safety of our beachgoers, as well as the safety of our staff. After interviewing everyone if we find there was any problem with our decision making...we will try to right any wrongs."
A total of nine lifeguards have been fired or have quit the company since the incident.
Asked if López would save the man's life, he said: "Of course," he said.
Contains reporting by the Associated Press.