Tampa Police Officer Killed By Wrong-Way Driver On I-275
An early investigation indicates Tampa police officer Jesse Madsen veered into the path of a wrong-way driver to protect others on I-275. Madsen and the driver, Joshua Montague of Golden, Colo, were killed.
A Tampa police officer was killed early Tuesday morning after he apparently veered into the path of a wrong-way driver Interstate 275 early Tuesday morning.
In a news conference Tuesday, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said Joshua Montague, 25, of Golden, Colo., was driving a rental car southbound in the northbound lanes near East Hillsborough Avenue around 1 a.m. when he struck a cruiser driven by Tampa police officer Jesse Madsen.
Madsen and Montague were killed in the crash, according to a news release.
The release said Montague was driving at a high rate of speed and swerving through lanes.
Dugan said the preliminary investigation indicates Madsen veered into the path of Montague to protect other drivers on I-275.
"We have reason to believe he veered into this oncoming car to protect others," Dugan said. "That is what we have gathered through some of our witnesses during our investigation.
"When you look at someone who's earned seven life-saving awards, it's no surprise that he would take such swift action and do this."
It was uncertain whether alcohol was involved in the crash, or why and where Montague entered I-275 in the wrong direction.
Dugan said it is believed Montague entered the southbound lanes near East Busch Boulevard, but the investigation is ongoing.
It is the latest in a series of wrong-way crashes on I-275 in the last few years.
"This is a tragedy," Dugan said. "You know, our community has been rocked by these wrong-way drivers."
The crash closed Interstate 275 between East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and East Sligh Avenue until around 8:30 a.m.
Dugan said Madsen, 45, served with the department for 16 and a half years.
Prior to joining the Tampa Police Department, Madsen served as a United States Marine combat veteran before becoming a police officer in Lyndhorst and Shaker Heights, Ohio.
He is survived by a wife and three children — two boys, ages 16 and 12; and a daughter, 10.
Dugan said Madsen was the 32nd Tampa police officer to die in the line of duty.