Lifeguard Fired for Saving Drowning Man
6 others fired for saying they'd do the same
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2012 12:00 AM CDT
Updated Jul 5, 2012 3:40 AM CDT
A lifeguard on duty at Hallandale Beach, Florida, where Lopez was employed.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(Newser) – Florida lifeguard Tomas Lopez got fired this week for helping save a man whose life he wasn't being paid to guard. After being alerted to a man struggling in the water, the 21-year-old lifeguard ran out of his patrol zone to help the man. He helped other beachgoers pull the man out of the water, assisted him until paramedics arrived—and was promptly fired for leaving the section of beach his company is paid to patrol. His employer says his actions endangered beachgoers in his section and could have exposed the company to lawsuits, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

"What he did was his own decision," his supervisor says. "He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do." Six of Lopez's fellow lifeguards have now been fired for saying they would also rescue somebody drowning outside their patrol zone, ABC reports. "What we're basically supposed to do is watch them die," one of them says. Lopez, who had been on the job for four months, says he would do the same thing again. "It was the moral thing to do," he says. "I would never pick a job over my morals."