A Florida lifeguard was fired after he rushed to save a swimmer struggling to stay alive in the "unprotected" stretch of the beach, where visitors are warned to swim at their own risk.
Why was Tomas Lopez, 21, fired? The company responsible for providing lifeguards to Hallandale Beach said recently, "We limit what we do to the protected swimming zones that we've agreed to service."
Jeff Ellis Management also added, "If we find our actions on the part of the leadership team were inappropriate, we will rectify it based upon the information that comes forward," noting the oncoming inquiry into the incident and the subsequent firing.
Two of Lopez's fellow lifeguards have quit in protest of the decision.
Recounting the incident, Lopez said he was sitting at his post at about 1:45 p.m. Monday when someone rushed to his stand asking for help. Lopez noticed a man struggling in the water south of his post, near the "unprotected" stretch of the beach, city officials confirmed Tuesday.
"It was a long run, but someone needed my help. I wasn't going to say no," he said.
Lopez couldn't understand why he was fired for doing his duty. "The reason I was fired is just ridiculous," Lopez told CNN late Wednesday night. "It is a ridiculous rule, really. What was I supposed to do? Just let the guy drown?"
The struggling swimmer was admitted to the intensive care unit at Aventura Hospital but there's no further word on his condition.
Ellis said the firm will interview managers and workers to see if safety protocols were violated.