Tomas Lopez was hailed as a hero by many after he rushed to save a swimmer from drowning at Florida's Hallandale Beach earlier this week. But for his sense of duty, the 21-year-old was rewarded with a pink slip.
The reason: The drowning man was outside Lopez's "zone."
Four lifeguards quit their jobs in protest upon learning of Lopez's termination, and after considerable media backlash, Jeff Ellis of Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc. — Hallandale's lifeguarding contractor — reversed course and decided to offer Lopez his job back.
Ellis claims he changed his mind after learning that Lopez's section of the beach was never left unattended.
However, despite the offer, Lopez says he's no longer interested in the job. "They are trying to fix the wrong that they did. I just don't want to work for that company anymore," he told the Sun Sentinel. "It's not out of spite against the company. After all is said, I really just want to move on and get another job."
Two lifeguards who say they were fired for admitting they would have done the same thing Lopez did will also be allowed to return, as will the four protesting lifeguards.
The swimmer is still in the hospital, but is said to be in stable condition. The investigation continues, and may yet result in disciplinary action against local supervisors.
[screengrab via Sun Sentinel]