By Tamas Mondovics
A deadly wrong way crash on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway has claimed two lives this morning, including a Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy and the wrong way driver.
According to HCSO officials the accident occurred about 3 a.m. on eastbound Selmon Expressway near the east end of the expressway Interstate 75.
After slamming his car in to the deputy’s patrol car, the wrong way driver, Erik Thomas McBeth, 32 of Hudson FL, died at the scene while HCSO Traffic Crash Investigator to Patrol District 4 Deputy John Robert Kotfila, Jr. 30, a 6-year veteran was transported to Tampa General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Sheriff David Gee stated, “Our HCSO family is one less today. The tragic loss of one of my deputies has all of our hearts heavy. The most dreaded part of being Sheriff of Hillsborough County is getting the news that a deputy has lost his or her life in the line of duty. I know the citizens of Hillsborough County – and from all corners of this great nation – join HCSO as we mourn. But this sadness is tempered with an enduring pride that our deputy fought the good fight. That is our vow – then, now andtomorrow.
We will embrace our deputy’s family with the honor and respect due to one who dedicated his life “to serve and protect. Thank you for your prayers for our deputy and his family.”
Authorities said that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting a wrong way driver heading westbound on the Leroy Selmon Expressway at the Brandon Express Exit (Upper Deck).
The ramp was closed to westbound traffic and servicing eastbound traffic only. McBethwas traveling west in the eastbound lanes.
Deputy Kotfila was in his HCSO Marked Patrol Car – 2013 Dodge Charger-had just left Tampa General Hospital following a traffic crash investigation and was traveling eastbound on the Selmon Expressway.
Just west of the I-75 overpass, the deputy was unable to avoid the crash and the vehicles struck head-on.
“All of the traffic control devices were in working order showing the ramp closed to westbound traffic,” HCSO spokesman Larry McKinnon said. “It is unknown if alcohol was involved at this time.”
Gee has ordered all flags at HCSO facilities be flown at half staff in honor of Deputy John Kotfila, Jr.
The Traffic Homicide Unit is continuing the investigation.
For more information please visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.