Deputy Sheriff Eddie Wotipka Harris County Sheriff’s Department Texas End of Watch: Thursday, June 10, 2010

Photograph: Deputy Sheriff Eddie Wotipka Patch image: Harris County Sheriff's Department, Texas

Deputy Sheriff Eddie Wotipka
Harris County Sheriff’s Department

End of Watch: Thursday, June 10, 2010

Biographical Info
Age: 51
Tour of Duty: 17 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Drowned
Date of Incident: Thursday, June 10, 2010
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Deputy Eddie Wotipka drowned after entering a canal in an attempt to rescue a dog that had fallen into the water.
At approximately 11:15 pm, as Deputy Wotipka arrived home at the end of his shift, several neighbors notified him that a group of dogs were possibly in distress near the canal.
When he arrived at the canal his own dog fell into the water. Deputy Wotipka, who was still in uniform, jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue the dog. It is believed that a swift undercurrent caused him to go beneath the surface. He resurfaced once before going under the water again.
A sheriff’s department dive team recovered his body the following morning.
Deputy Wotipka had served with the agency for 17 years. He is survived by his wife and two adult children.

Agency Contact Information
Harris County Sheriff’s Department
Family Assistance Unit
1200 Baker Street
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (713) 755-8461 

A Harris County Sheriff’s deputy drowned after he jumped into a swift-moving drainage canal to save his pet dog late Thursday night near Baytown. His wife leaped into the water to save him, but she was unable to reach him and bystanders pulled her from the current.

Deputy Eddie Wotipka, 51, plunged into the waterway near West Cedar Bayou Lynchberg Road and Thompson Road about 11:15 p.m. after one of his dogs went into the canal, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. He was still in uniform and hadn’t signed off from his shift, officials said.

Sheriff’s Office divers and marine units searching the waterway found his body about 5 a.m. in the canal about 150 feet from where witnesses said he went under water.

Investigators said Wotipka, who has worked for the Sheriff’s Office since 1993, returned home during his evening shift as a patrol deputy in District 3 when his neighbors told him dogs were near the canal not far from his home.

Wotipka then saw his own dog either fall or jump into the water.

The deputy took off his radio and gun and plunged into the canal to save his pet. Witnesses told investigators they saw Wotipka go under water, resurface and then go under water again.

Wotipka’s wife, Karen, jumped into the water to save him, but the deputy didn’t resurface. Witnesses pulled his wife from the water.

Along with his wife, Wotkipa also leaves behind two children, ages 26 and 24.

Witnesses said the water looked calm but had a powerful undercurrent.

The man-made canal serves the Lynchburg Reservoir. Officials said pumps at a nearby plant had to be shut down to reduce the flow of the current. After special camera equipment located the deputy’s body early Friday morning, rescuers had to wait a few hours to recover it.

The body of the pet, an English bulldog, was later recovered as well.

According to the sheriff’s office, Wotipka had been with the sheriff’s department since 1993. While he was at the end of his shift, the sheriff’s office said the deputy was still technically on duty as he had not yet signed off of his patrol car’s computer system.

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