Fort Myers Police Officer Gil Benitez is heralded as a hero after he rescued a man in a wheelchair during a torrential downpour. “I’m not a hero. I’m just an officer. I’m just doing my job,” the Fort Myers officer said softly during an interview with an NBC-2 reporter.
The man in the wheelchair begs to differ though. Last Thursday night, Officer Benitez, responding to a call during a thunderstorm in Forth Myers, spotted Michael Arnold stranded in his electric wheelchair on the side of the road. Arnold explained how the wind picked up and, only a block from home, he became stranded:
“I got to the end of the street and everything just stopped on me.”
Officer Benitez said that it was raining so hard that night, he couldn’t even see the stop sign. As he was pushing Arnold to his home, the video shows lightning strike near the wheelchair. Even after the close call, the police officer pushed Arnold a block to his home. Going above and beyond the call of duty, the Fort Myers officer stayed with the man until a family member arrived at the home. During that time, Officer Benitez got the man dried up and made sure he was safe. “Any one of us would have done it, I just happened to be there first,” Benitez explained modestly.
Some residents who know Officer Benitez aren’t surprised at how well he handled the situation. On the Fort Myers Police Department’s Facebook page, Michele Burmaster said, “I went to middleschool with this guy and he has ALWAYS had such a huge heart. I’m so happy he’s getting recognition!”
Arnold says the Fort Myers police officer saved his life given that his electric wheelchair had completely stopped functioning and visibility on the road was extremely poor.
[Photo via NBC-2 Video]