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Florida Hero Lifeguard Declines Rehiring

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (UPI) — A Florida lifeguard fired for joining in a rescue outside of his coverage zone was offered his job back but says he has declined.

Ellis Management President Jeff Ellis offered Tomas Lopez his lifeguard job back at Hallandale Beach in Florida, Thursday, but the 21-year-old refused the offer, ABC News reported.

Lopez had only been on the job four months when he was let go after leaving his coverage zone to help a man who was struggling in the water about 1,500 feet from the contractor’s protected beach area.

Company officials said Lopez was fired because his actions left beachgoers unprotected and could have led to lawsuits.

Six other lifeguards at the beach quit in protest saying they also would have rescued a drowning man.

“This event caught me by surprise just as much as it did everyone else,” Ellis said earlier. “We’re reviewing everything that has occurred, and we will either concur with that or we will override what happened based on what we find out.” He said he learned about the incident Tuesday.

A review of the rescue determined Lopez did not leave his post unattended when he ran to save a swimmer in trouble on an unprotected section of beachfront.

“Now that [the firing] is public, they want to fix it. That’s shady to me,” Lopez told ABC. “If I never said anything [about being fired], they never would have acted.”

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