A Bondi Rescue star famous for saving lives has instead put many at risk after a drink-driving stunt that cost him his licence and a $500 fine.
Chief lifeguard Bruce Hopkins, aka ‘Hoppo’, was spotted by police swerving on to the wrong side of the road at Bondi in his Toyota Landcruiser on January 4.
The 47-year-old almost collided with palm trees along Campbell Road and was lucky not to crash into any oncoming cars or pedestrians, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Police said he blew 0.164, more than three times the legal limit, and was arrested and taken to Waverly Police Station.
Hopkins had reportedly been drinking at Chapter One, a restaurant he owns with his wife, Stacey.
He appeared at Downing Centre Local Court where Magistrate Graeme Curran banned Hopkins from driving for 12 months and put him on a good behavior bond for two years.
The financial penalty of $500 was substantially less than the $3000 maximum, as Hopkins’ lawyer Paul McGirr explained that the celebrity lifeguard was having financial difficulties due to a failing business and the breakdown of his marriage.
Mr McGirr also referred to Hopkins’ ‘good record’, which contained only a few speeding fines since he obtained his licence in 1986.
“The punishment is that he will suffer from so many people knowing about this,” Mr McGirr said in court.
The drink driving scandal comes just weeks after a long list of scandals emerged from behind the scenes of Bondi Rescue.
The allegations included:
• Stars of the show attacking Hopkins' leadership and questioning his overseas business trips
• Reports of a ‘severe alcohol culture’ after one lifeguard was sent to alcohol rehab for three weeks after an incident at a hotel. The show’s producers allegedly paid for the stint
• Allegations lifeguards accepted tens of thousands of dollars in payments from Red Bull and Mars
• Anger within the crew after Hopkins took his wife, who is not a lifeguard, on a jet ski to retrieve a dead body
Hopkins addressed concerns about his leadership in an email to his colleagues last year.
“From this point on I cannot and will not accept any verbal complaints about team members ... I welcome being kept in check but the schoolyard talk has to stop!’’ he wrote.
Another lifeguard reportedly said the show had spawned ‘arrogant’ and ‘now rich employees’ who were ‘still employed by the public purse’.
News break – March 13