TAMPA, Fla. — A Golden man died in Tampa, Florida after speeding on the wrong side of the road and crashing into a Tampa Police Department officer, killing him, the department said.
The crash happened Tuesday morning on Interstate 275 between the E. Hillsborough Avenue and E. Sligh Avenue exits. Tampa police said they started receiving 911 calls around 1 a.m. local time about a white sedan speeding and swerving southbound in the northbound lanes. Within one minute of the first 911 call, the driver of the white sedan crashed into a Tampa police officer's vehicle, killing both of them, according to the police department.
The man in the white sedan was identified as 25-year-old Joshua Daniel Montague of Golden, as first reported by ABC News. Police said he was driving a rental car and was moving to the area.
The master patrol officer killed was identified as Jesse Madsen, 45. He leaves behind a wife and three children, ages 16, 12 and 10.
Tampa Police Department Chief Brian Dugan said the police department has reason to believe that he veered into the sedan to protect others. He was not responding to the crash at the time he was struck, Dugan said.
In a press conference Thursday, Dugan said data from both vehicles shows movement consistent with Madsen purposefully placing his vehicle in front of Montague's vehicle.
"At the time of the impact, Montague was traveling over 100 mph and Officer Madsen was traveling approximately 65 mph," he said. "Officer Madsen is a true American hero. He deliberately moved his patrol car into the other driver's path of travel. We believe Jesse Madsen was attempting to stop this wrong-way driver from putting anyone else's life in danger and laying down his own."
Toxicology results are pending, but initial findings indicated that Montague was intoxicated at the time of the crash, Dugan said Thursday. He was in the process of moving to the region and had been in the area for less than 12 hours. Dugan said he hadn't even opened his luggage in his hotel room. They did find some beer bottles in the room and believe he had visited a local bar, Dugan said.
"I was at the scene shortly after it happened and the conditions of the cars — obliterated. Especially the one Mr. Montague was driving. The front end was gone. The engine was on the side of the road," Dugan said. "Officer Madsen's car was in a ditch on its side."
Madsen will be awarded the police purple shield for his efforts, Dugan said, which is presented to officers who suffer from extreme physical injury or death in the line of duty. He will also receive the Medal of Honor, the highest medal awarded to any heroic employee at the cost of imminent personal danger. His family will receive the Gold Cross Award, presented to the families of officers who die in the line of duty.
Madsen dedicated his life to serving others, first as a United States Marine combat veteran, then as a police officer in Lyndhurst, Ohio, then as an officer in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He had been with the Tampa Police Department for 16 and a half years when he died.
Madsen received the Tampa Police Department’s Life-Saving Award seven times.
The Tampa Police Foundation has set up several ways to donate to Madsen's family. Click here for details.
The police department said his badge number — 507 — will be retired and his name will be etched into the Tampa Police Fallen Officers Memorial.
He is the 32nd police officer with the department to die on duty.
"Jesse was a guardian of this city," the police department said. "He will never be forgotten."
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.