ORLANDO, Fla. - Friends, family and colleagues described Deputy First Class Norman Lewis as a wonderful person and someone who was always laughing or had a smile on his face.
Lewis was killed Monday as he was setting up a perimeter during the search for a man accused of killing Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton.
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During the manhunt for Markeith Loyd, 41, Lewis, who was part of the county's motorcycle unit, was hit at 9:43 a.m. by a driver who was attempting to cross Balboa Street, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Officials said Lewis was thrown from his motorcycle was listed in critical condition after the crash. He was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he died shortly before 11 a.m., officials said.
Lewis started his career at the agency in 2005.
Friends and family described Lewis as a kind, wonderful person.
"Just a wonderful person. They couldn't have taken a better, a better person than Norm. He was always so happy. I would call him, he'd answer the phone laughing," Kathryn Stillman told News 6 reporter Troy Campbell.
Stillman, who regards herself as Lewis's Orlando mother, said she tried to call Lewis on Monday after seeing a report on the news.
Read more here: From the archives: Orange County Sheriff's Office cracking down on those not using seat belt I Friends mourn loss of deputy killed searching for suspected cop killer I What we know about fallen Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton I Timeline details manhunt for Markeith Loyd]
"Then I heard the television, an Orange County deputy, so I came inside the house and I called Norm from the house phone and it went into voicemail," Stillman said.
Family said Lewis was passionate about motorcycles, especially his Harley-Davidson.
"He brought his new motorcycle to show me and Jim. He was so proud of his Harley. He did not like riding in the SUV when it was raining. He wanted to be on that Harley," Stillman said.
The same sentiment was echoed by his colleague, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes.
"This deputy is a phenomenal deputy. He is so lovable. A big giant, like the sheriff said. Everybody will agree to that," Montes said. "This deputy never, you never saw him when he wasn't smiling or laughing. He backed up everybody, he helped everybody. Everybody knows him,” Montes said.
In a news conference on Monday, Sheriff Jerry Demings thanked Orlando Regional Medical Center for its help in trying to save Lewis.
"I have to say to ORMC, we appreciate their efforts, because I saw the sense of urgency and they gave everything they could to save the life of one of my deputy sheriffs, who unfortunately did not survive his injuries," Demings said.
Lewis, who was from Port Charlotte, attended the University of Central Florida and graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
As a student at UCF, Lewis was also an athlete, playing offensive lineman for the UCF Knights football team from 2000 to 2003.
“Master Sgt. Clayton and Deputy First Class Lewis dedicated their lives to making our community safer, and they were outstanding role models,” President John 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.”
The funeral for Lewis will be held on Jan. 13 at the First Baptist Orlando at 11 a.m.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office started a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise money for Lewis' parents. After just one day, people had contributed just under the $10,000 donation goal. One donor alone gave $7,000.
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