A group of lifeguards in Hallandale Beach, Florida quit after one of their co-workers, Tomas Lopez, was fired for rescuing a drowning man outside the lifeguard company’s zone of protected beach (video below).
Several of Lopez’s co-workers have resigned as a show of solidarity and for refusing to assure the lifeguard company that they would not save people's lives, outside the specific beach area, as Lopez did.
Lopez was on duty on Monday at about 1:45 p.m. in the afternoon when he was informed that a man was drowning down the beach.
Lopez told WFTV News: “I’m looking, I don’t see anyone. They said, ‘He’s way down over there,’ so I just started running.”
A hundred yards down the beach, a man lay blue and gasping in the shallows.
“I could see he’s got water in his lungs,” said Lopez, who worked with an off-duty nurse to keep the man alive until paramedics arrived.
When Lopez arrived back at his post, a supervisor told him to fill out an incident report, then fired him for violating company policy.
The lifeguards were employed by the Orlando-based company Jeff Ellis and Associates, which forbids its employees from operating outside the company’s legally defined zones to avoid the risk of lawsuits.
Lopez performed the rescue about 1,500 feet beyond the borders of the protected area, where signs are posted that inform beach-goers that they are swimming at their own risk.