Police Chief Dugan: “We have reason to believe that [officer Madsen] veered into this oncoming car to protect others."

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The Tampa Bay Area is mourning the loss of a Tampa Police officer killed in the line of duty early Tuesday morning.

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45-year-old Jesse Madsen was killed when his police car was hit by a wrong-way driver on Interstate 275. That driver, Joshua Montague, is also dead.

Chief Brian Dugan says, Officer Madsen was dedicated to protecting his city, and former coworkers say he was a selfless person who will never be forgotten.

Former coworker, Marc Lamielle said, “I was shocked. There’s no way to comprehend that kind of information at eight o’ clock in the morning for somebody that you know.”

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan shared the somber fact, “Jesse Madsen, badge 507, is the 32nd police officer to die in the line of duty for the Tampa Police Department.”

Tuesday morning Tampa Police received calls about a white car driving in the wrong direction on I-275, speeding and swerving through lanes. It’s the last morning officer Madsen would respond to a call.

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Dugan said of the incident, “We have reason to believe that [officer Madsen] veered into this oncoming car to protect others.” Officials say the impact killed both the driver, 25-year-old Joshua Montague and officer Madsen.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor added,  “If he took steps to try to save others by lying down his life, that really is a true testament to the kind of individual Jesse Madsen was.”

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Prior to his 16 years with the Tampa Police Department, Madsen worked with the Shaker Heights Police Department in Ohio. Madsen earned seven life-saving awards during his career and former Shaker Heights coworker, Marv Lamielle, says that’s no surprise, adding, “He was very driven and his dedication for public service and his passion towards public service is not only shown through his military service but also the things he did here in the community.”

With his untimely passing, officer Madsen leaves behind a wife, two young sons and a daughter.

“A lot of people forget about the fact that police officers are fathers. They’re husbands. They’re friends. They’re partners. They’re all these wonderful things that people forget about,” said Lamielle.

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Chief Dugan says the police station will now enter a seven-day period of mourning and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says the city will be lit up in blue in Officer Madsen’s honor. For those interested in donating, the Tampa Police Department’s Rise Tampa foundation has set up a fundraiser in which 100% of donations will go directly to the family.