TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The family of a Tampa police officer who died stopping a speeding and impaired driver who was traveling the wrong way on I-275 is taking action against the Florida Department of Transportation.

The Yerrid Law Firm, which represents Danyelle Madsen, the widow of Officer Jesse Madsen, filed a lawsuit against FDOT on her behalf for damages in excess of $30,000.

Investigators say Officer Madsen, a decorated officer who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine, was driving home from his shift on March 9, 2021 when he spotted Joshua Daniel Montague driving the wrong-way on the interstate. In a split second, Madsen decided to put his police cruiser into the path of the wrong-way driver to save the life of another motorist heading in the right direction on Interstate 275. Both men died at the scene.

“Because of what he did that night, I’m still here, my children still have me,” said Yarrellys Ruiz, who spoke for the first time on Tuesday about the crash that nearly claimed her life.

She says that crash has impacted her greatly.

“It has affected me in a way that I don’t drive at night, the road, like I get scared all of the time,” said Ruiz.

FDOT told 8 On Your Side they have equipment on the ramp that detects wrong-way drivers and discourages them from traveling the wrong way. But the system wasn’t activated on the night of the crash.

“When we got word there was a wrong way driving crash, we had our contractor go out and check all of our devices and yes the one at Busch Boulevard was working. They did test it, it did work properly,” FDOT representative Kris Carson said shortly after the incident.

The lawsuit filed by the wife of officer Madsen against the Florida Department of Transportation and a private vendor called Transcore says the accident should never have happened.

“This wasn’t an accident. They created a foreseeable zone of risk,” said Tampa Attorney Steve Yerrid with the Yerrid Law Firm.

The Florida Department of Transportation says they do not comment on pending litigation, but Yerrid says the equipment designed to prevent wrong way crashes was not maintained properly and was not working the night of the crash.

“From January 2020 to February 2021, a year and a month, that alone, in that period alone there were five accidents involving wrong way drivers at that exit ramp alone,” said Yerrid.

He also says the equipment worked in each of those cases, but it failed the night Madsen was killed.

“What happened this time, the sixth time, the system didn’t work, it never activated and someone is going to be held responsible,” said Yerrid.