Fallen Tampa police officer dies after veering into path of wrong-way driver to save others

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan praised the heroic actions of the officer who was killed in a wrong-way crash on Tuesday morning.

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 and shut down I-275 in both directions for several hours.

Dugan said 25-year-old Joshua Daniel Montague of Golden, Colorado, was traveling the wrong way on the interstate when he hit Madsen’s patrol vehicle near Hillsborough Avenue and Sligh Avenue. 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 US 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 three children two boys, 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.

Dugan said the police department will go into a seven-day period of mourning.

Mayor Jane Castor said City Hall and all Tampa bridges will be lit in blue to honor Madsen and his service. The city landmarks and bridges will shine blue for a seven-day mourning period.

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.

“[First Lady Casey DeSantis] and I are heartbroken by the death of @TampaPD Officer Jesse Madsen who was tragically killed in the line of duty,” he wrote. “We extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and the Tampa law enforcement community.”

The Tampa Police Benevolent Association is raising funds on behalf of officer Madsen’s family. Those interested in donating to Madsen’s family can do so at the association’s website and ask you put Officer Madsen Fund in the notes as you process your donation.

Memorial T-shirts will also be available for purchase next week and will be available for pickup at the Tampa PBA office.

NOTE: Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan previously stated that Madsen was a father of four, but a corrected release states he leaves behind three children. This story has been corrected.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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