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Florida lifeguard fired for helping drowning man

File pic of lifeguard stand in North Miami
Mr Lopez ran some distance out of his patrol area to help the swimmer on an unprotected stretch of beach

A lifeguard who left his section of a Florida beach to help save a man from drowning has been given the sack.

Tomas Lopez, 21, was patrolling part of Hallandale Beach north of Miami when he was told that a swimmer was in trouble in an unguarded area of the beach.

"I wasn't going to say no," the lifeguard said.

But his bosses said he had broken company rules and could have put other swimmers at risk. At least two colleagues have resigned in protest.

"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," Susan Ellis of lifeguard provider Jeff Ellis and Associates told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

She added that the stretch of Hallandale Beach that Mr Lopez was supposed to be patrolling on Monday was being protected by other lifeguards who were on the phone to emergency operators at the time.

Mr Lopez, four months in the job, ran some distance to help the swimmer who had already been pulled out of the water by other beachgoers.

He and an off-duty nurse then helped the man until paramedics arrived to take him to hospital. The unidentified swimmer is said to be in intensive care.

Mr Lopez has no regrets about losing his $8.25-an-hour (£5.30; 6.60 euros) job.

"I think it's ridiculous, honestly, that a sign is what separates someone from being safe and not safe," Mr Lopez told CBS television.

A colleague, on finding out that he had been fired, said he radioed his manager to cover the beach for him and promptly quit.

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