…outside his company’s designated “zone.”
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.
A nurse at the beach tended to the victim until emergency medics arrived and rushed him off to a hospital.
It all happened so quickly that Lopez said he never got the man’s name and wonders if he is all right.
“It is killing me. I really want to know what happened to the guy,” he said.
WPTV reported Tuesday the man was admitted to the intensive care unit at Aventura Hospital.
After the near-drowning, Lopez said he was asked by his supervisor to complete an incident report.
“At that point I knew I was going to be fired. I knew had broken the rule,” Lopez said. “In those cases, we are supposed to call 911 and hope they get there in time.”
Company supervisor Susan Ellis told WPTV that Lopez was let go for violating company policy.
“We have liability issues and can’t go out of the protected area,” she said. “What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do.”
Since his firing, several other lifeguards have quit in protest, Lopez said.
The company is reportedly “reviewing the situation,” in which it fired a lifeguard for, you know, guarding life.