- Associated Press - Saturday, March 12, 2016

BRANDON, Fla. (AP) - A Hillsborough County Sheriff deputy who spent years investigating traffic crashes died Saturday after being struck by a wrong way driver on a southwest Florida expressway.

Authorities said 30-year-old Deputy John Robert Kotfila, Jr. was on his way from the hospital after midnight Saturday where he had been working on a traffic crash investigation. Authorities said a driver was heading the wrong way on the Selmon Expressway and the deputy was unable to avoid the crash and the vehicles struck head-on.

The other driver, 31-year-old Erik Thomas McBeth, died at the scene. Authorities said Kotfila died at the hospital. He had worked with the agency for six years.

Sheriff David Gee said in a statement the sadness was tempered with an enduring pride that Kotfila had ‘fought the good fight.’

“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,” he said.



The ramp was closed to westbound traffic and servicing eastbound traffic only. All of the traffic control devices showing the ramp was closed to westbound traffic were working properly.

A 2014 Tampa Bay Times analysis of Florida Highway Patrol data found that wrong-way crashes are common in the area and attributed many to drunken driving. On Tuesday, Hillsborough deputies stopped a wrong-way driver on U.S. 301 after the driver’s truck hit a patrol car. No one was injured.

Last month, a collision on Interstate 275 near downtown Tampa killed two Air Force veterans.

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