TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - A well-liked Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was killed by a dangling power pole early Wednesday morning. Greg Patterson died early Wednesday morning when he road his bike into the energized wire on a path on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
Officer Patterson, a father of two daughters, was known for his heroic deeds. This past weekend he saved three young women from drowning when their jet ski capsized near the Gandy Bridge.
Video from that rescue, the last Patterson would make in his career, is posted on Facebook. It happened Saturday when the three women got into trouble on the jet ski.
Patterson jumped into the water to help. His co-workers said it doesn't surprise them.
"Our FWC family is mourning today. Officer Patterson was an outstanding officer. He was an outstanding public servant, and he was a champion conservation law enforcement officer," Major Roger Young said.
Tony Acosta was driving his big rig truck on the Gandy when he saw the women in distress and pulled over. "None of 'em could swim. And they all had life jackets on that were way too small so they were barely afloat," Acosta explained.
He threw rope from his winch in the water, hoping the victims could grab it.
He praised Patterson's efforts. "He seemed to me to be very, very calm; keeping the girls calm," Acosta explained.
Acosta believes Patterson and others together saved the jet ski riders' lives.
Patterson is known for his work with children, teaching hunting and fishing. "It brings me some peace to know that we've got officers such as Greg that are out in the field doing their job," Major Young said. "Nothing prepares you for having to break the news to one of your own and family members and his co-workers too, took this extremely hard this morning."