Update, July 6
Jeff Ellis of Jeff Ellis & Associates, the company that fired lifeguard Tomas Lopez, has decided to offer Lopez his job back. Supposedly, Ellis changed his mind when he learned that Lopez’s section of the beach was never left unattended.
However, Lopez says he’s no longer interested in the job. “They are trying to fix the wrong that they did. I just don’t want to work for that company anymore,” he told the Sun Sentinel.
Not surprising, considering the way the company treated him.
Really? A lifeguard can be fired for doing his job?
Lopez left the section of this south Florida beach his company is paid to patrol after he was summoned to help a man who had been struggling in the water south of his station. 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.
Lopez and an off-duty nurse tended to the victim until paramedics arrived. The victim was reported in good condition Wednesday at Aventura Hospital.
Having acted like a real hero, Lopez was asked to fill out an incident report, and learned that he had been fired. Two other lifeguards have quit in protest.
But as he told CNN, “I’m going to do what I felt was right. And I did.”
Orlando-based Jeff Ellis and Associates, the company Lopez worked for, did not agree with this reasonong, and declared that lifeguards cannot go beyond the perimeter of the beach they are responsible for overseeing.
Company supervisor Susan Ellis told WPTV that Lopez was let go for violating company policy.
On Wednesday, company owner Jeff Ellis told the Sun Sentinel newspaper the firm will interview managers and workers to see if safety protocols were violated. Apparently Ellis does not doubt that Lopez was “good intentioned,” but declares that his company’s first responsibility is to ensure that service for its zone is not disrupted.
What kind of mentality would decide not to save a drowning man because he was outside of your jurisdiction? Has Mr. Ellis lost all sense of perspective on what’s important in life?
Common humanity is what binds us together, and Lopez should have been praised and rewarded for his actions.
Instead, he was fired. If you believe that Jeff Ellis and Associates acted wrongly in firing Lopez, please sign our petition.
Photo Credit: screenshot from WPTV