Tomas Lopez, who claims he was fired after helping rescue a swimmer outside his post, has declined an offer from his former employer to return to work, saying, "I'd rather not work there." NBC's Mark Potter reports.
The lifeguard who was fired for leaving his designated zone to aid in the rescue of a drowning man will be honored by the city of Hallandale Beach Monday.
Officials said Friday the victim of the near drowning will meet his rescuers, including fired lifeguard Tomas Lopez, at 10:30 a.m. at city hall.
Lopez will be given the keys to the city during the news conference.
Jeff Ellis Management, who provides lifeguards for the city of Hallandale Beach, called Lopez on Thursday after a thorough review of the incident and offered him his job back.
Lopez told NBC 6 he “humbly declined” the offer.
“They offered me a heartfelt, a real good apology, but I just declined. I just want to move on to the next chapter of my life,” the 21-year-old said.
The incident unfolded Monday when Lopez ran and left his lifeguard zone, breaking company policy, to try to help a drowning man.
By the time Lopez got to the man, beachgoers had managed to pull him out of the water. Lopez and a nurse tended to the man, who was later rushed to Aventura Hospital in intensive care. He was discharged from the hospital on Thursday.
Lopez’s firing ignited a wave of fury among residents who called his termination unjust.
Jeff Ellis told NBC 6 said he had met with city officials to review existing protocols for responding to aquatic emergencies in unprotected areas and would work to strengthen protocol.
“Hopefully we’ll learn and we’ll take added precautions to prevent this from ever happening again,” Ellis said.
Two other lifeguards said they were also fired for failing to agree with the company policy, and four others resigned in protest.
Ellis said as of Friday, none of the fired lifeguards had accepted the offer to be hired again.
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