ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orange County motorcycle deputy was hit and killed Monday by a van while working a perimeter in the search for the suspected gunman in the death of an Orlando police officer, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Norman Lewis was an 11-year veteran with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
Troopers said he was hit on Pine Hills Road and Balboa Drive at about 9:43 a.m.
“In my 36-year career, this is probably one of the toughest days in my career,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
The van was traveling north on Pine Hills Road as the deputy was traveling south.
The driver of the van, Billie Jarrard, 78, of Clermont, made a left turn into the direct path of the motorcycle, which struck the right side of the van, FHP said.
“Based on eyewitness testimony, he (Jarrard) had a green light and he was not traveling at any inordinate rate of speed,” said Demings.
Lewis was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries.
Jarrard was not hurt. Charges are pending.
“When I ran up to him, he wasn’t breathing. A nurse showed up at the same time,” said the witness. “I was holding his hand and was trying to keep him alive, keep him awake.”
"He did his job every day and I think the public needs to know whether it's doing mundane (asks) or looking for the worst person possible, we are out there doing our jobs, and that's what he was doing," Montes said.
Lewis was a University of Central Florida alumni. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 2004 and was a football student-athlete. Lewis was an offensive lineman from 2000-2003.
“Master Sgt. Clayton and Deputy First Class Lewis dedicated their lives to making our community safer, and they were outstanding role models,” President Hitt said. “Our UCF family joins the Orlando Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Office in mourning their deaths. They are heroes and Knights forever.”
Sgt. Clayton and Dep. Lewis are heroes and Knights forever. We mourn them and send our love to their families, friends and colleagues. pic.twitter.com/CleO2gn2AX— UCF Police Dept. (@UCFPolice) January 9, 2017
"I think people, even if he wrote them a ticket and they didn't like it, never a complaint. It's just the way he treated people," said Paul "Spike" Hopkins.
Hopkins supervised Lewis when he worked at the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
"I was just so heart broken about this great man," Hopkins said.
Watch the full interview below of the witness:
"When you make those left turns, when you pull out of a driveway, you have to make sure you give that second look so you don't pull into the path of a motorcycle. They are so much more vulnerable on a motorcycle when they get into a crash," Montes said.
"We're losing a great cop who was out there risking his life every day," Hopkins said.
Authorities said Markeith Loyd, 41, is accused of fatally shooting Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton Monday morning numerous times at the intersection of Pine Hills Road and North Lane.
“As in the past, I'd like to call on our entire community to stand united in support of all of the families of both the deceased and the injured. But as the sheriff and the chief have done, I am also calling on the community to provide any information that will lead to the capture of this violent criminal,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Loyd remains at large.
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