A Florida police officer made the ultimate sacrifice to save others this week.

By Tony Keith

A Tampa police officer who investigators believe veered into an oncoming vehicle to protect others before dying Tuesday morning in a wrong-way crash was a “strong, courageous” father who had wanted to serve in law enforcement since he was 8 years old, his family tells Fox News. 

Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen.(Tampa PD)
Officer Madsen receiving a police escort away from the crash scene earlier this morning. (Tampa Police Department)

Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen — a U.S. Marine combat veteran who spent nearly 17 years with the Tampa Police Department — was pronounced dead around 1 a.m. following the collision on Interstate 275. He leaves behind a wife and three children, ages 16, 12 and 10. 

Tampa Chief Brian Dugan says the driver of the rental car that struck Madsen’s police vehicle — 25-year-old Joshua Daniel Montague, of Golden, Colorado — also died from the impact. 

It remains unclear why Montague was heading southbound at a “high rate of speed and swerving through the lanes” of northbound I-275, and the investigation remains ongoing, police added

The chief called Madsen an “American hero.” Investigators say Montague had just arrived in Tampa.

Madsen is the third police officer in the Tampa Bay area to be killed in the line of duty this year, following incidents in January and February involving officers with the Hillsborough County and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Offices, respectively. 

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