TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Tampa’s mayor and police chief revealed Thursday in a press conference that Jesse Madsen, the Tampa Master Police Officer killed in the line of duty on Tuesday had swerved into the path of the wrong-way driver to protect potential victims.
On Thursday morning, March 11, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan and Mayor Jane Castor revealed preliminary details of the investigation into the fatal crash that claimed the life of Master Police Officer Jesse Madsen.READ MORE: Bird Striking Windshield Forces Atlanta Delta Air Lines Flight To Turn Around
At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 9, 25-year-old Joshua Daniel Montague, of Golden, Colorado, entered Interstate 275 at Busch Boulevard driving in the wrong direction, southbound in the northbound lanes. Data collected from Montague’s vehicle shows he was traveling at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. Data collected from Officer Madsen’s patrol vehicle reveals that he was traveling at approximately 65 miles per hour at the time when his vehicle took two sharp turns, veering into Montague’s path of travel, just before hitting Montague’s vehicle.
Both Officer Madsen and Montague were killed in the crash.
“These findings simply show what anyone who knew Officer Jesse Madsen personally would tell you: He was a true American hero,” said Chief Brian Dugan. “By deliberately swerving his patrol car into the other driver’s path of travel, we believe Officer Madsen was attempting to stop this wrong-way driver from putting anyone else’s life in danger by laying down his own”.
While full toxicology results are pending, initial findings show that Montague was intoxicated at the time of the crash. According to detectives, Montague was not visiting Tampa on Spring Break, but rather, in the process of moving to the area. Detectives learned that Montague, who was driving a rental car and staying at a local hotel, had been in Tampa for less than 12 hours before the fatal crash occurred.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Update: Will You Get A Fourth Relief Payment?
Chief Dugan announced on Thursday that due to his heroic efforts, Officer Madsen is being posthumously awarded the Police Purple Shield, presented to officers who suffer an extreme physical injury or death in the line of duty, and the Medal of Honor, the highest medal awarded to any employee who distinguishes themselves by an act of heroism at the cost of imminent personal danger. Officer Madsen’s family will receive the Gold Cross Award, presented families of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. In addition, MPO Madsen will be recognized with an eighth Life-Saving Award for the final selfless act he took in the protection of others.
“We will never forget the bravery that Officer Madsen showed that night or the sacrifice he made to protect members of our community. While we are still mourning as a department, our jobs must continue. We will keep fighting to make our roadways safer for anyone traveling in Tampa, and we will do it with an even greater purpose after losing one of our own in such a senseless and avoidable DUI crash,” said Chief Dugan.
To honor the life of Officer Madsen, a public candlelight vigil will be held on Thursday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Tampa Police Headquarters located at 411 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602. Chief Dugan, Mayor Castor, TPD personnel, and city and county dignitaries will be in attendance along with members of Officer Madsen’s immediate family. The vigil is open to the public and will also be streamed live by clicking this link.
Officer Madsen’s funeral service, which is also open to the public, is scheduled to take place Tuesday, March 16, at 11 a.m. at Idlewild Baptist Church located at 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd, Lutz, FL 33548.MORE NEWS: ‘Bodacious’ Bahamas Fishing Trip Costs Florida Man His Boat Plus $25
The public can leave condolence messages, find additional information on memorial events and funeral arrangements, and make donations to the Madsen family by visiting this site and selecting the banner of MPO Jesse Madsen.