Chief: Wrong-way driver from Colorado was intoxicated, in Tampa for 12 hours before crash that killed officer
TAMPA, Fla. - The wrong-way driver who killed a decorated Tampa police officer was in the process of moving to the Bay Area and had only been in the city for hours before the deadly crash, investigators say.
Chief Brian Dugan announced this morning that the funeral for Officer Jesse Madsen, who died Tuesday morning in the crash, will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Idlewild Baptist Church. The public is invited; more details will be provided at a later date.
The chief also revealed that 25-year-old Joshua Montague -- the wrong-way driver who was also killed in the crash -- was in the process of moving from Golden, Colorado, to Tampa. He was staying at a local hotel and had only been in town for less than 12 hours.
"This whole incident could’ve been avoided," Dugan said.
Joshua Montague also leaves behind a daughter.
During the investigation, detectives searched Montague's hotel room. They said his luggage was not even open.
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"There was some beer bottles found in his hotel room," the chief explained. "We have reason to believe he was at a local bar. Through interviews, he was out drinking somewhere. We’re still following up trying to determine who he was with and who he had talked to."
Early Tuesday, Montague entered Interstate 275 from Busch Boulevard, and was speeding at 100 mph when he crashed into the patrol car carrying 45-year-old Jesse Madsen, who was traveling at 60 mph.
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"Data collected from both vehicles shows movement consistent with Officer Madsen purposely placing his vehicle in front of Montague," Chief Dugan said.
The chief described both of their cars as "obliterated." The rental vehicle's engine was found on the side of the road. Madsen's patrol car was on its side in a ditch.
"You truly feel for our officers who were first there and their sense of helplessness," Dugan said.
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He said it doesn't appear that Madsen was answering the call of a reported wrong-way driver and may have been heading home.
"Officer Madsen is a true American hero," Dugan said. "He deliberately moved his patrol car into the other driver’s path of travel."
Dugan said Madsen will be awarded the Police Purple Shield, offered to those who receive a serious injury or die. He will also receive a Medal of Honor.
His family will receive the Gold Cross Award.
The chief announced a candlelight vigil will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Tampa Police Headquarter, where the city will unveil Madsen's name on the monument. It is open to the public and will also be streamed at www.facebook.com/TampaPD.
"This is a very difficult time for the men and women of the police department," Mayor Jane Castor said. "When a name is etched up on the police memorial we always pray it will be the last, knowing, unfortunately, that is not the nature of law enforcement."
Chief Dugan said Tuesday's funeral the Idlewild Baptist Church is open to the public. It is the same venue where services were held for two other fallen Bay Area law enforcement officers this year: Corporal Brian LaVigne with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Pinellas County Deputy Michael Magli.