Fired Hero Lifeguard Offered His Job Back – And He Says No
"It's another chapter in my life closed and I am just going to continue to get my schooling finished and get on with my career," Lopez told CNN on Thursday.
The much-publicized incident took place at Hallandale Beach, north of Miami, on Monday, when Lopez instinctively went after a drowning man, though the swimmer was outside of Lopez's coverage zone, in an unguarded "swim at your own risk" area.
Lopez said the man had turned blue and "was having a lot of trouble breathing."
The pink slip was handed down by the Jeff Ellis Management company, which said lifeguards are not insured to go beyond the perimeter of the beach for which they are responsible.
Ellis told CNN on Thursday: "Clearly, he should not have been terminated for what had occurred. I know that he has tried to do the right thing."
"I have no doubts I did the right thing," Lopez, who said he knew the rules but acted anyway, told CNN. "I believe I did what was right, and that if someone needs help you're going to go help them, regardless if you're a lifeguard or not."
Three other lifeguards quit in protest and two others were dismissed after saying they would have followed Lopez's example. Ellis told CNN that all of them have been made job offers to return, but so far there have been no takers. Lopez was paid $8.25 an hour.
As for the drowning victim, a nurse on the beach assisted him until emergency medics arrived. He was rushed to Aventura Hospital and on Thursday was said to be in good condition, CNN reports.