Tomas Lopez: Lifeguard from Hallandale Beach will get offer to return to work

Lopez said he will decline

The Hallandale Beach lifeguard who was fired earlier this week for leaving his zone to help rescue a nearby swimmer will get an offer to go back to work, his top boss said Thursday.

The offer will also be extended to two other lifeguards who were fired in connection to the incident. Several other lifeguards who have since resigned from their jobs in protest will also be welcomed back.

In a telephone interview early Thursday afternoon, Jeff Ellis, the head of Jeff Ellis Management, said lifeguard Tomas Lopez and the others were fired too quickly.

"I am of the opinion that the supervisors acted hastily, " Ellis said.

The company launched an investigation shortly after news of the incident began to quickly spread across the world.

But Ellis said since Monday's incident, he's been able to confirm that no area of the beach that his company is contracted to patrol was left unattended while Lopez went out of the area to assist a swimmer in distress.

"To me that was the most critical question: Was the beach ever left unattended?" Ellis said. "I have since learned that answer is no. The beach was supervised at all times."
Given those circumstances, Lopez should not have been fired, Ellis said.

"It was not the appropriate course of action to take," he said.

The internal investigation continues, Ellis said.

The company owner said his human resources department will be contacting Lopez and the others to offer them their jobs back.

But on Thursday, Lopez said he will decline.

"They are trying to fix the wrong that they did. I just don't want to work for that company anymore," Lopez said. "It's not out of spite against the company. After all is said, I really just want to move on and get another job."

At least two other lifeguards said they were fired the next day after being asked if they would have taken similar action.

"They sat me down and told me that my answer will determine if I get to keep my job or not," said Travis Madrid, 20. "When I told him I would do the same thing, they told me I was dismissed."

Ellis said he was still looking into why the other lifeguards were fired. However, he said they too will be offered their jobs back, as will the others who resigned.

The company owner said the outcome of the investigation will determine if the local supervisors will be punished for their actions.

City officials on Thursday said they were still awaiting a full report from the company before taking any action.

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