HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – A South Florida lifeguard fired for leaving his post to help save a drowning man stirred national outrage, but after his company offered to rehire him, he said no thanks.
I was thinking I'm not going to obey such a ridiculous rule.
Now, Tomas López will be honored with the key to the city of Hallandale Beach.
López left the section of a South Florida beach his company is paid to patrol. The Orlando-based company, Jeff Ellis and Associates, says López 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."
After it was revealed that Lopez was fired, two fellow lifeguards were fired for standing by López and six others quit.
Since the firing his former boss, Jeff Ellis has apologized.
"To me that was the most critical question: Was the beach ever left unattended? I have since learned that answer is no...It was not the appropriate action to take," Ellis wrote.
Lopez said that there was someone attending his post.
The Sun Sentinel reported López was on duty at Hallandale Beach last week 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." "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. Asked if he would save the man's life if he had a chance to do it again?
"Of course," he said.
López is set to meet the victim he saved on Monday.
Contains reporting by the Associated Press.