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Florida Insurance Fraud Detective Earns Medal of Heroism for Irma Rescue


Irma Medals of Heroism Group Photo

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott awarded insurance fraud detective Barry Lewis with the Medal of Heroism for his role in a joint rescue during Hurricane Irma. The Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) Detective Lewis, alongside the Florida Highway Patrol’s (FHP) Corporal John Schultz and Sergeant David Contessa, waded into rising flood waters in Fort Myers to rescue FHP Lieutenant Greg Bueno and his parents when the roof of their house collapsed as Hurricane Irma pummeled Southwest Florida.

CFO Patronis said, “These men didn’t think twice before launching into action when they received their colleague’s call for help. Without blinking, they did what they do best – rush to offer a helping hand to a fellow Floridian. In the heart of a hurricane, they walked through flood waters in the dead of night to perform this rescue, making them all heroes in my book. I’m proud to see one of our own recognized today, and I’m grateful to live in a state full of heroes like Detective Barry Lewis, Corporal John Schultz and Sergeant David Contessa.”

DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes said, “I am extremely proud and forever grateful for FHP Corporal John Schultz and Investigator Barry Lewis, who heroically rescued one of our own Florida Highway Patrol troopers and his family. These heroes answered the call for help in the midst of a hurricane, setting aside their own personal safety, and Florida is a better, safer place because of them.”

On September 10, FHP Lieutenant Greg Bueno took shelter from Hurricane Irma at his lakefront Fort Myers home. He was joined by his parents and a family pet. During the eye of the storm, a large section of the home’s roof collapsed, allowing rain to pour in. The waterfront property was already at great risk as the overflowing lake had flooded the area and trapped the family inside. Lt. Bueno attempted to call for help, but poor signal prevented a clear call, and he hung up unsure whether anyone had heard his plea for assistance.

While uncertain of the exact situation, Corporal John Schultz and Detective Barry Lewis knew the lieutenant needed immediate assistance and left the Lee County Emergency Operations Center to offer aid. The two arrived at the entrance of the neighborhood, which was unpassable by car, so they proceeded to the home on foot. Corporal Schultz and Detective Lewis arrived at Lt. Bueno’s home shortly before FHP Sergeant David Contessa, who arrived with a towing company to transport the group to safer ground. The family was unharmed and spent the night at the Lee County Emergency Operations Center.

Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida as a category 3 storm. More than 800,000 Irma-related insurance claims have been filed, and damage estimates currently exceed $5.5 billion.


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