Lifeguard fired after saving drowning man
Tomas Lopez says he never thought getting fired would make him so popular.
But since his controversial firing Monday, the 21-year-old former lifeguard from Florida said his phone has been ringing off the hook from journalists trying to get his side of the story. He is set to make an appearance on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" on Thursday night.
"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 incident occurred Monday at Hallandale Beach in South Florida.
Orlando-based Jeff Ellis and Associates, the company Lopez worked for, said lifeguards cannot go beyond the perimeter of the beach they are responsible for overseeing.
But that day, a beachgoer rushed to Lopez's lifeguard station to alert him to a man who was drowning.
The man was some 1,500 feet outside the company's protection zone in an area where signs warn visitors to swim at their own risk, a supervisor with the company told CNN affiliate WPTV.
Even though he knew it was outside the company protection zone, Lopez ran into the ocean toward the struggling man and pulled him ashore.
The man, he said, had turned blue.
"He was having a lot of trouble breathing," Lopez said.