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.
The lifeguard who was fired for leaving his designated zone when rescuing 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 and 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.