Wrong-way detection system failed before TPD officer was killed

Fallen officer
Posted at 7:07 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 05:11:38-05

TAMPA — The Florida Department of Transportation is looking for answers as to why its wrong-way detection system appears to have failed Tuesday morning before a Tampa Police officer was killed.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said Joshua Montague entered I-275 at Busch Boulevard Tuesday morning around 1 am.

He said Montague was drunk when he headed south on the northbound side of the interstate.

Investigators say TPD officer James Madsen used his police cruiser to stop the speeding car, which was driving at more than 100 miles an hour.

Both men were killed in the collision.

In recent years, FDOT has installed wrong-way detection systems at many exits.

If someone enters the interstate going the wrong way, flashing lights are set off, warning signs activated, and Florida Highway Patrol is notified.

But FDOT said none of its detection systems went off before the crash.

FDOT said, "although we will wait to get the full investigative report from TPD, it does appear the driver may very well have entered I-275 via Busch Boulevard. When we get the specific details we will work to see if there is an explanation for why the wrong way detection equipment may not have detected this driver.

FDOT said they test the system once a month and the most recent test was just two days before the crash.

They also said they checked it after the crash and it was working properly both times.

FDOT said in the last six months, there were 13 documented cases where drivers tried to get on the interstate going the wrong way.

They said in all those instances, the driver saw the flashing lights and turned around.

"We have not had one documented instance where a motorist entered the interstate in the wrong direction after seeing the flashing lights. We are going to continue to investigate this ramp and the equipment," an FDOT spokesperson said.