Lifeguard fired after saving drowning man - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Lifeguard fired after saving drowning man

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    HALLENDALE, FL (WFLX) - A Hallandale Beach lifeguard, who was fired for leaving his zone earlier this week, is now being offered his job back according to our newspartners at the Sun Sentinel.    TomasMore >>
    A Hallandale Beach lifeguard, who was fired for leaving his zone earlier this week, is now being offered his job back according to our newspartners at the Sun Sentinel.
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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A South Florida lifeguard is rescued after he saved a drowning man. The problem: He left his watch area to help out the man in trouble.

On a busy 4th of July, the lifeguard chair once occupied by Thomas Lopez is now being filled by a lifeguard who quit his job at the end of his shift. All the turnover follows a rescue Lopez made on Monday. "I was on stand, and guests came up to me and told me there was someone drowning -- that people were screaming, and I ran from my post," recalled Tomas Lopez.

He ran several hundred feet from his post. "On the radio, I heard Tomas saying I'm going for a rescue, but it's out of our zone," said resigned lifeguard Kalok Geng. "And the our manager Matt Williams, said don't go -- just call 911."

By the time he got to the man, beach goers had managed to pull him out of the water. "I put him in the recovery position, which we're trained to do," said Lopez. "And had a nurse come and help me."

The victim was rushed to Aventura hospital.

When Lopez returned to his post, he knew what was next. "I'm going to lose my job aren't I?" asked Lopez.

The problem is Lopez ran passed the flag that separates the part of the beach that's guarded from the part where beach goers are warned to swim at their own risk.

Lopez said he knew this wasn't part of his zone, but it was in his line of vision, and he couldn't sit back and watch someone go under. "I was prepared for it," defended Lopez. "It wasn't too much of an upset because I had my morals intact over my job."

The City of Hallandale Beach contracted Jeff Ellis Management to provide lifeguards at these posts. The contract has existed for about nine years.

Supervisor Susan Ellis, who was on lifeguard duty, told us there would be no comment on her behalf.

She did tell the Sun Sentinel "We have liability issues and can't go out of protected areas."

Since the incident, two lifeguards tell us they were fired when the company had a discussion about the policy with them the following day. "There's no way I'm agreeing with the company," said lifeguard Zoard Janko. "If I see someone dying or they need my help, I'm going to go help them. Because that's my job as a lifeguard."

Another four quit. "I'm not going to sit there and watch someone drown -- we're lifeguards."

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