A Tampa Bay Police officer killed in the line of duty in a wrong-way crash early Tuesday was trying to protect other motorists, witnesses say. Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen, 45, was killed along with the other driver in the crash on I-275 around 1am, the Tampa Bay Times reports. "We have reason to believe that he veered into this oncoming car to protect others," Police Chief Brian Dugan told reporters Tuesday. "That is what we have gathered from some of our witnesses." Madsen, a 16-year veteran of the force, had earned the department’s Life-Saving Award seven times. He is the third Tampa officer to die in the line of duty this year. The other two were also killed in crashes.
The rental car driven by 25-year-old Colorado resident Joshua Montague slammed into Madsen's police SUV around a minute after police started receiving 911 calls about a driver speeding south and veering around cars in the northbound lanes. "When you look at someone who has earned seven life-saving awards, it’s no surprise he would take such swift action and do this," Dugan said. Hundreds of vehicles from the Tampa force and other agencies lined the street as Madsen's body was taken to the medical examiner's office Tuesday. Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials expressed their condolences, WTSP reports. Madsen is survived by his wife and three children. (Read more Tampa stories.)