A Florida sheriff’s deputy was killed after his car collided head-on with another vehicle early Saturday, authorities said.
John Robert Kotfila, Jr., 30, was a deputy at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He had just left a hospital where he had been working on an investigation when his vehicle collided with the vehicle of a driver who was heading the wrong way on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.
Erik Thomas McBeth, 31, of Hudson, was identified as the other driver in the accident and died at Tampa General Hospital, The Tampa Tribune reported. He was heading west on an elevated highway that was dedicated to eastbound traffic at the time and slammed into Kotflia’s 2013 Dodger Charger at around 2:45 a.m. in Tampa.
Larry McKinnon, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said the investigation into the wreck is ongoing and a toxicology test will be conducted to determine whether drugs or alcohol played a part in the crash.
Authorities said Kotfila died at the hospital. He had worked with the agency for six years.
“Our HCSO family is one less today. The tragic loss of one of my deputies has all of our hearts heavy,” Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said. “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.”
According to The Tampa Tribune, Kotfila comes from a law enforcement family. John Kotlifa, Sr. told the paper that his son’s grandfathers were both involved in police work. Kotlifa Sr. himself is a sergeant with the Massachusetts State Police. His uncle is a deputy in Pinellas County, Fla.
“Both his grandfathers were in law enforcement,” Kotfila Sr. told the paper. Kotlifa Jr’s grandfather on his mother’s side was a Massachusetts State Police lieutenant and his paternal grandfather served in the Holyoke, Mass. Police Department.
Kotlifa, Jr’s brother, Michael, is an officer in Falmouth.
Kotlifa graduated from Westfield State College and wanted to move to Florida, where his uncle and grandparents lived, to get a law enforcement job, his father told The Tampa Tribune. Kotlifa chose the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office because of its reputation and “the way they did things.”
“HCSO lost a good one,” Kotlifa Sr. said. “The state of Florida lost a good cop. He was a good kid.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.