A Tampa police officer was killed Tuesday after he used his vehicle to stop a swerving driver racing the wrong way down the highway.
Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen veered his police cruiser into the car of 25-year-old Joshua Daniel Montague of Colorado as the latter erratically drove southbound on the northbound lanes of I-275. It is unknown why Montague – who was also killed in the incident – was driving the wrong way down the road.
Madsen was a former U.S. Marine and earned seven awards for life-saving actions during his 17-year police career.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan called Madsen a "guardian of this city" and said he believed the officer put himself in harm's way to protect other drivers.
"We have reason to believe that he had veered into this oncoming car to protect others," said Dugan. "So when you look at someone who has earned seven life-saving awards, it's no surprise that he would take such swift action and do this."
Danny Alvarez of the Police Benevolent Association similarly praised Madsen for his lifetime of service.
"When we talk about Jesse Madsen, we're talking about a cop's cop and a hero's hero. He went out the way he lived his life, and last night he put himself in between a car and a civilian and he knew the sacrifice he was making and he knew the risk and he chose to do it anyway," said Alvarez.
A memorial fund has been established for Madsen and his badge number is being retired in his honor. He is survived by his wife and three children, ages 16, 12, and 10.