2017 Deputy of the Year
Sgt. Eric Nalewaik is the 2017 Deputy of the Year for his efforts involving the rescue of a pilot from the wreckage of a plane that crashed near Page Field.
During the early morning hours of Saturday June 24th 2017, a call for service was received by the Lee County Sheriff's Office in reference to a plane crashed near the Chico's compound located at 11215 Metro Parkway.
Sergeant Eric Nalewaik was first on scene and observed the plane wreckage, and smoke coming from within the Chico's compound. Due to Sergeant Nalewaik' s knowledge of the area, he entered the compound through the entrance gate just North of the Crash. Once on scene, without concern for his own safety, Sergeant Nalewaik ran over to the wreckage, where he located the pilot and escorted him to safety. Once the pilot was safe from the wreckage, Sergeant Nalewaik returned to the plane in a valiant attempt to rescue the second passenger. While running back to the plane it caught fire and was fully engulfed within seconds, preventing Sergeant Nalewaik from rescuing the other victim. Later medical reports indicated the second victim most likely died on impact and was beyond lifesaving efforts.
Due to Sergeant Nalewaik' s quick thinking, and complete disregard to his own safety, he was able to save the life of the pilot, who sustained serious, but not life threatening injuries.
Although all of the deputies involved in this tragic accident performed in a professional manner; which brought great credit to the Sheriff's Office, Sergeant Nalewaik' s actions displayed an exemplary level of proficiency of safeguarding the citizens of Lee County. Due to his notable disregard for his own safety during this incident, and his devotion to duty and service to the public we proudly name him as our Deputy of the Year.