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Florida Lifeguard Loses Job for Helping Swimmer in Unprotected Waters

Many times lifeguards are let go because they failed to help a struggling swimmer at sea, but in the case of Tomas Lopez, his punishment was due to helping a man who needed him. Not only did Tomas leave his position as a state beach lifeguard, but six of his colleagues also left in retaliation to their employer’s decision. 21-year-old Lopez says that he was just doing his job when he saw a man struggling in the ocean. The drowning man was in unprotected waters, but Lopez rushed out to make a rescue. After saving the swimmer from a tragic death, Lopez’s boss rewarded him with a pink slip.

According to Jeff Ellis Management, the company that supplies lifeguards to the Hallendale Beaches, the situation has to do with unprotected waters. The swimmer Lopez rescued was swimming about 1,500 feet offshore, in an area that is technically a “swim at your own risk” area. The lifeguards are not required to save any men or women who are caught up in the violent waters this far from the beach. Lopez admitted that he knew the victim was very far off shore, but says he saw no reason why he shouldn’t attempt to help the young man.

However, Jeff Ellis Management cited Lopez as abandoning his station. The management company is currently reviewing their decision because of the public outrage about Lopez’s termination. The lifeguard claims that he was willing to risk his job to save the man because he has morals that supersede his desire for employment. If you were swimming in unprotected waters and were injured at a beach, you may not be able to sue for your injuries. Like this case proves, the beaches take their claims seriously, and when an area is not protected it means that no one should attempt to swim there without assuming the risk of injury or death. However, in protected waters lifeguards are required to stay observant and rescue any hurt individuals. Talk to a personal injury lawyer today if you have a drowning lawsuit.