A young lifeguard in Florida has lost his job after going to rescue a drowning man in a section of beach he was not assigned to patrol.
Tomas Lopez, was manning his post at Hallandale Beach, north of Miami, on Wednesday, when he was told someone was in trouble in an "unprotected" section of the beach.
Lopez, 21, rushed down the beach to rescue him, but was fired for going 500 metres out of the beach zone his company is paid to patrol.
"I ran out to do the job I was trained to do," Lopez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper. "I didn't think about it at all."
At least two other lifeguards have quit in protest, the newspaper reported.
"What was he supposed to do? Watch a man drown?" the paper quoted one, Szilard Janko, as saying.
Officials of the company providing the lifeguard services said Lopez broke a rule that could have put beachgoers in his designated area in jeopardy and the firm could have been sued.
"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," said supervisor Susan Ellis. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."
Witnesses had pulled the unidentified man out of the water by the time Lopez arrived at the scene, the newspaper said.
Lopez said he and an off-duty nurse attended to the man until paramedics arrived. He was rushed to hospital where he remained in intensive care.
Lopez acknowledged breaking a rule, but said he would do it again if the situation called for it.
"It was the moral thing to do. I would never pick a job over my morals," he told the paper.