Fired Lifeguard Gets Key to City | NBC 6 South Florida

Fired Lifeguard Gets Key to City

Lifeguard honored for helping save drowning man in Hallandale Beach



    (Published Monday, July 9, 2012)

    The lifeguard fired for leaving his designated zone while rescuing a drowning man received thanks from the victim and was given the key to the city of Hallandale Beach by the mayor Monday.

    Tomas Lopez was honored at a ceremony at city hall, where he met 19-year-old victim Maksim Samartsev for the first time since the rescue.

    "He saved my life," said Samartsev, who was visiting his father from Estonia when the rescue happened on July 2.

    Lopez, 21, ran and left his lifeguard zone, breaking company policy, to try and help Samartsev. By the time Lopez got to him, beachgoers had managed to pull him out of the water. Lopez and a nurse tended to Samartsev, who was later rushed to Aventura Hospital in intensive care. He was discharged from the hospital on Thursday.

    Samartsev's father, Ivan called Lopez's actions "a miracle."

    "All I did was what I was supposed to do," said Lopez, who added that he doesn't think he deserves a key to the city.

    Jeff Ellis Management, who provides lifeguards for the city of Hallandale Beach, had fired Lopez at first, but reviewed the incident and offered him his job back. Lopez declined.

    Fired Hallandale Beach Lifeguard Declines Offer To Get Job Back

    [MI] Fired Hallandale Beach Lifeguard Declines Offer To Get Job Back
    Tomas Lopez said Thursday that he "humbly declined" the offer by Jeff Ellis Management to get his job back as a lifeguard in Hallandale Beach. "It's not out of spite or anger or anything like that. It's just I prefer not working for the company any more," Lopez said, several days after he was fired for leaving his post to rescue a man drowning outside the zone he was supposed to patrol. Lopez said he told the company he appreciates the apology, but he is going to continue his education. He said he would do the same thing tomorrow if such a rescue situation happened again.
    (Published Thursday, July 5, 2012)

    City commissioner Keith London called the incident "an accident waiting to happen" and says the city needs to re-examine its contract with Jeff Ellis Management.