TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A police chief in Florida is praising the heroic actions of an officer who was killed in a wrong-way crash Tuesday morning.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said officer Jesse Madsen, a father of three, was killed after he veered into oncoming traffic, likely to save other motorists from a wrong-way driver on Interstate 275. The incident occurred around 1 a.m. Tuesday.
Dugan said Joshua Daniel Montague, 25, of Golden, Colorado, was traveling the wrong way on the interstate when he hit Madsen’s patrol vehicle. Both Madsen and Montague died.
“We have reason to believe that he [Madsen] veered into this oncoming car to protect others,” Dugan said. “That is what we have gathered through some of our witnesses from our investigation.”
Dugan said they’re still working to determine how fast Montague was traveling before the crash occurred.
Dugan said Madsen, 45, was a U.S. Marine who had worked for the Tampa Police Department for 16 years. He was a highly decorated officer with seven life-saving awards, according to Dugan.
“When you look at someone who’s earned seven life-saving awards, there’s no surprise that he would take such swift action and do this,” Dugan said.
Madsen leaves behind two sons, ages 16 and 12, and a 10-year-old daughter. He is the 32nd Tampa Police Department officer to be killed in the line of duty, according to Dugan, who added that the police department will observe a seven-day mourning period.
Mayor Jane Castor said City Hall and all Tampa bridges will be lit in blue to honor Madsen and his service. His badge, number 507, will be retired and his name will be etched into the Tampa Police Fallen Officers Memorial.
A police motorcade escorted the officer’s body from the crash scene to the city’s medical examiner’s office Tuesday morning.
Gov. Ron DeSantis shared his condolences in a tweet, saying he was “heartbroken.”