Seminole County deputy to receive 2 life-saving awards

Body camera video shows Seminole deputy alerting residents to shed fire

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - The Seminole County Sheriff's Office will recognize several deputies, volunteers and members of the community Thursday for their actions that resulted in lives saved.
 
Among those being honored is Deputy Erik Aragon-Vela, whose quick thinking Jan. 6 helped get four residents out of their home when he spotted a shed behind the house on fire. 
 
Aragon-Vela's body camera video shows him spotting the fire behind the home and the sparks coming from the flames. 
 
"My immediate concern was to get the people out, call it out on the radio, get [the Fire Department] in route as quickly as possible and just make sure everybody was safe," Aragon-Vela said.                  
 
As soon as he realized what was happening, Aragon-Vela knocked on the house's door and alerted the homeowner. All four people got out in time and the Seminole County Fire Department was able to contain the flames.

Reginea Guimaraes, 73, was inside the home the night of the fire. She said earlier in the day she and her husband hosted a family barbecue. Some wires were left near the fire pit, possibly causing the fire.

She said everyone was sleeping when Aragon-Vela knocked on their door and alerted them to the fire. 
 
"If that deputy wasn't there, what do you think could have happened?" News 6 asked. "We die in our sleep," Guimaraes said.                      
 
Guimaraes said she is grateful to the deputy, who happened to be driving by when he saw the smoke. She said the flames could have spread to their home.
 
"A big hug from this family to you and your family. God bless you," she said.      
 
Guimaraes called Aragon-Vela her "angel" and said he's invited over for a barbecue anytime.
 
Aragon-Vela said he was just doing his job.
 
"Anybody else wearing a uniform and a badge on their chest would have done the exact same thing," he said.

On Thursday, Aragon-Vela will receive a Life Saving Award for rescuing a man who attempted suicide and a Distinguished Action Award for alerting and evacuating the residents from that home. 
 
Sheriff Dennis Lemma will also present an Award of Merit to Deputy Patrick Flanagan, who apprehended an individual suspected of shooting a civilian and firing at a Winter Park police officer, striking the officer’s patrol vehicle. 
 
More than two dozen deputies will be recognized for administering the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.
 
The ceremony happens in Sanford on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Professional Development Center. 

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