A man whose rescue resulted in a lifeguard's controversial firing now plans to take legal action.
Maksim Samartsev, who was rescued by lifeguard Tomas Lopez on Hallandale Beach, claims certain areas along the shore are left unmonitored and could be dangerous. Lopez, a lifeguard working for a company contracted to the city of Hallandale Beach, was fired after pulling Samartsev from the water because Samartsev was outside Lopez's designated area at the time of the rescue.
Ivan Samartsev said his son is still recovering from his near-drowning experience.
"He was unconscious. I hope it didn't damage his brain," Ivan Samartsev said.
His father said the two took a beach vacation in South Florida, trying to reconnect after not seeing each other since Maksim Samartsev was 6 years old.
"Almost 15 years ago, we had a divorce. My former wife got a new family. I came to America; she stayed in Estonia," Ivan Samartsev said.
Ivan Samartsev said his wife disappeared with their son. Finally, he flew to Estonia, hired a private detective and found his long-lost son, only to almost lose him to drowning.
"Maksim will tell you he saw what is often referred to, in his words the 'white light.' Maksim came very close to crossing over," said his attorney, Eric Ansel.
The Samartsevs have hired an attorney, and a neurologist is examining Maksim Samartsev.
"Of course, we have no cause of action against or would even think of going against Mr. Lopez individually. He was the hero in this," Ansel said.
Ansel said there are signs warning people they are swimming at their own risk, but they are posted on the perimeter. If someone comes out of a condo building to the beach, there is no sign that it is an unguarded beach or that there are dangerous rip currents, even if one looks back toward the lifeguard towers.
"This is one of the more populated areas, that they see the need for lifeguards just north and just south of it," Ansel said.
Representatives of Hallandale Beach said the city provides lifeguards at all public beaches, and they can make rescues outside the boundaries.