Deputy Sheriff John Robert Kotfila, Jr.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
End of Watch: Saturday, March 12, 2016
Tour of Duty: 6 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Automobile accident
Date of Incident: March 12, 2016
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Deceased
Agency Contact Information
Sheriff David Gee
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
2008 E 8th Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605
Phone: (813) 247-8000
Deputy John Kotfila, Jr., was killed in a head-on collision with a vehicle that was driving the wrong direction on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway around 3:00 a.m.
Deputy Kotfila was returning to the station after investigating an unrelated traffic accident when a driver entered the expressway heading west in the eastbound lanes, causing a head-on collision. The wrong-way driver died at the scene.
Deputy Kotfila was transported to Tampa General Hospital, where he later died. He had served with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for six years.
BRANDON, FL — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one if its own Saturday.
According to the agency, one of its deputies was killed by a wrong-way driver shortly after 2:45 a.m. after 911 calls came in about a driver heading west on the eastbound Leroy Selmon Expressway at the Brandon Express Exit (upper deck).
“The ramp was closed to westbound traffic and servicing eastbound traffic only,” the sheriff’s officer wrote in an email to media.
The deputy had just left Tampa General Hospital following a crash investigation and was heading east when he encountered the wrong-way driver just west of the Interstate-75 overpass.
“The deputy was unable to avoid the crash and the vehicles struck head-on,” the email said.
The wrong-way driver died at the scene. The deputy was taken back to Tampa General Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
“All of the traffic control devices were in working order showing the ramp closed to westbound traffic,” the email said. “It is unknown if alcohol was involved at this time.”
The sheriff’s office has identified the deputy as John Robert Kotfila Jr., 30. Kotfila was a traffic crash investigator who worked with the sheriff’s office for six years. He was driving a marked 2013 Dodge Charger at the time of the accident.
The other driver has been identified as Erik Thomas McBeth, 31, of Hudson. He was driving a 2013 GMC Terrain.
"Our HCSO family is one less today," Sheriff David Gee said in a statement. "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 and tomorrow.
"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."
The death is a first for a Florida law enforcement agency in 2016, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Wrong-way driving incidents have become an increasing problem in the Tampa Bay area. On Tuesday, Hillsborough deputies stopped a driver going the wrong way on U.S. 301 after a lengthy chase.