TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan says an officer killed in the line of duty early Tuesday morning may have veered into the path of a wrong-way driver to protect others.
Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen, 45, had served as a Tampa Police Officer for 16 and a half years.
Just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Tampa Police say they received calls of a car driving south in the northbound lanes of I-275, reportedly going fast and swerving through lanes.
Within a minute of the first call, the car collided with Officer Madsen's police car between Hillsborough and Sligh Avenue exits.
Police say the impact killed both Madsen and that driver, who police identified as 25-year-old Joshua Daniel Montague of Golden, Colorado.
"We have reason to believe that [Madsen] veered into this oncoming car to protect others," said Dugan. "That is what we have gathered through some of our witnesses, some of our investigation. So 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.”
Madsen leaves behind a wife, a 10-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old son and a 16-year-old son. He was a seven-time recipient of the Tampa Police Department's Life Saving Award.
Chief Dugan says he is the 32nd police officer to die in the line of duty for the Tampa Police Department.
"The Tampa Police Department will go into a seven-day period of mourning, but I want everyone to know that they have my word that while we mourn the loss of one of our fallen officers, we will do everything within our abilities to keep you safe," said Dugan.
Mayor Jane Castor joined Chief Dugan outside of TPD headquarters Tuesday morning. Castor said the city will light up blue to honor Officer Madsen and his service to the community.
"If he took steps to try to save others by laying down his life, that really is a true testament to the kind of individual that Jesse Madsen was," Castor said.
Tampa police say it's early in the investigation and currently undetermined as to why and where the driver entered the interstate going the wrong way.
By Tuesday afternoon, several people had stopped by TPD’s Roll Call of Honor to pay respect to the fallen officer.
"That’s why we came down here," said Rachel Roberts, of Tampa. "I just felt like he deserved a moment of our time at least. Coming down and just getting a little bit of personal time to remember him and what he did."
Madsen was also a United States Marine combat veteran. Rafael Pizano with Tampa Fire Rescue says he crossed paths with Madsen on the job, and they became friends. Pizano says Madsen was down-to-earth, loyal, and an all-around good person. He says the fallen officer loved helping others and would always put other people before himself.
"I'm at a lack of words, especially knowing he had the three kids and a 10-year-old daughter. It's just kind of stunning," said Pizano. "One moment, somebody's here, and you come into work, put on the news, and you know the individual and what a great person they are, and the next moment, they’re not here. That father’s no longer here, that husband’s no longer here, that son is no longer here, and that buddy.”
A procession of TPD officers could be seen early Tuesday escorting an ambulance from the crash scene. Later in the day, a tribute was posted outside TPD headquarters with Officer Madsen's badge number, 507.
Gov. Ron DeSantis Tweeted his condolences to Officer Madsen's family and TPD.
.@FLCaseyDeSantis and I are heartbroken by the death of @TampaPD Officer Jesse Madsen who was tragically killed in the line of duty. We extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and the Tampa law enforcement community.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 9, 2021
“It pains me to say that for the third time this year, our Tampa Bay law enforcement community has lost one of our own in the line of duty. Tampa Police Officer Jesse Madsen was killed in a wrong-way crash this morning," Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said. "Officer Madsen’s sacrifice for the safety of our community will never be forgotten. All of us on #teamHCSO are praying for and will stand with you @TampaPD.”
For those interested in donating to Officer Madsen's family, the Tampa Police foundation Rise Tampa has set up the following ways:
- In-Person: Monetary donations can be submitted to any Bank of Tampa branch in MPO Madsen's name
- By Mail: Checks or money orders can be sent to:
- RISE Tampai/c/o MPO Madsen PO Box 172816 Tampa, FL 33672