Update: Lifeguard Fired For Saving A Drowning Man

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.

July 5

Really? A lifeguard can be fired for doing his job?

It happened to Tomas Lopez at Hallandale Beach, in Florida, last Monday: Lopez helped save a drowning man and got fired for his actions.

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.

From CNN:

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.

Tell beaches to get rid of this dangerous and unfair practice!


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Photo Credit: screenshot from WPTV


Stella Nobrega-Garcia

Absolutely ridiculous. Petition signed.

Dale Overall

Thomas Lopez did a heroic thing, he has the training and the wits to save a dying person and all his company can come up with are rules and regulations. Somewhat akin to refusing to operate on a person who can't afford an operation. Instead of firing him he should have gotten congratulations and a raise.

This lifeguard did his duty and saved a life and I am sure that his services will be sought after by employers who care more about human dignity and lives than does the uncaring Jeff Ellis and Associates.

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago

Lopez is a hero.

Walter G.
Walter G5 years ago

Saving a life takes precidence over teh opinion of some obscure stuffed shirt. I feel the answer is not to return to that stupid corporation, sue it instead. The error is unforgivable.

William and Kat Dresbach

It stand to reason that when a Lifeguard goes to help someone that their station is unattended!
I heard him tell the story he made his calls to the right people and went to help the man! They knew perfectly well what he was doing!
I wouldn't work at this place any longer either!
Yes and I would tell everybody too the same!
Sounds like WalMart Treatment!

Laura P.
Past Member 5 years ago

he did the right thing. i hope he can find another job.

Suzanne L.
Suzanne L5 years ago

Of course Tomas did the right thing. It's the small-mindedness of the 'business mentality' that got him fired. I hope the community around this business will publicize what occurred in a big way and that others who've hired this company will give them the boot.

Patricia M.
Patricia Madi5 years ago

lack of flexibility took again its toll ...

Alan B.
Alan B5 years ago

So drowning man is in the sea,NOT on land,reminds me of Shakespeare,s PORTIA to SHYLOCK; you can,by your contract,take a pound of his flesh,BUT nowhere does it say you can have any of his blood!

Pinke A.
Pinke A5 years ago

Saving the life is the greatest anyone can do! Talking about the "zones" here is the most ridiculous and low-minded thing I have ever heard! Get real Hallandale Beach!