A lifeguard who saved a man at Hallandale Beach in southern Florida was fired Monday for venturing beyond the beach he was hired to protect, CNN reported.
"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area,” Susan Ellis, a supervisor with Jeff Ellis Management, the private contractor the lifeguard worked for, told WPTV, according to CNN. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."
Tomas Lopez, 21, rushed to the aid of a man who was drowning in an area marked with ‘swim at your own risk’ signs, about 1,500 feet beyond his zone, CNN reported. He pulled the man out of the water and medics took him to the hospital, where he is reported to be in good condition.
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After the rescue, Jeff Ellis Management asked Lopez complete an incident report, according to CNN.
"At that point I knew I was going to be fired. I knew I had broken the rule," Lopez told CNN. "In those cases, we are supposed to call 911 and hope they get there in time."
Six other Hallandale lifeguards were fired or left their jobs in solidarity with Lopez, ABC News reported.
Today, Jeff Ellis, the president of Jeff Ellis Management, told ABC News that he had learned that Lopez made sure his post was covered when he left to help the swimmer in distress. Ellis said he had offered Lopez his job back but he declined to take it. Ellis added he was also willing to rehire any of the other lifeguards who left.
Hallandale City Manager Renee Crichton told ABC News: "We take the safety to all visitors to our beaches very seriously. Whether they are in a protected area or unprotected area, we believe aid must be rendered."
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