by Cassy Fiano | March 16, 2016 4:53 pm
Police officers are the unsung heroes of our country, risking their lives each and every day to keep us safe. But one police officer is being called a hero for going above and beyond, sacrificing his own life to save that of another.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy John Robert Kotfila Jr., 30, was remembered by his fellow officers today after helping to save the life of Sarah Geren, 42, on Saturday.
Geren said she was about to be hit by a man driving the wrong way up the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, in Tampa, when Kotfila accelerated past her, crashing into the oncoming car head-on.
Both Kotfila, a six-year veteran of the Hillsborough department and the third generation in his family to serve in the police, and driver Erik Thomas McBeth, 31, died in the collision.
Speaking at a memorial event for Kotfila, Geren said: ‘He saved my life. If he had not made that split-second decision, not only would my life be lost, but my boyfriend’s life as well.
She told The Tampa Tribune: ‘I never got an opportunity to meet the deputy, but I think he is the most amazing man. He died a hero.
‘I was a random person on a random road at a random time. He saved me.’
Geren told WFLA-TV that she saw the car accelerating towards her at around 2.45am and began flashing her lights to warn the driver, but could not react fast enough.
She added: ‘I started to pull over to the side of the road, but that hadn’t even occurred all the way when the officer rushed around me.
‘One or two seconds after he passed me, he hit the car, instead of me. This man put himself in front of us as a human shield.’
She said she wasn’t even aware that Kotfila was driving behind her until he accelerated past, smashing into McBeth’s car.
The force of the impact spewed debris across the highway, and images of Kotfila’s patrol car show the front end and engine block have crumpled backward into the driver’s seat.
Geren said she was able to stop her car against the central crash barrier and ran to check on both Kotfila and McBeth, but could find no sign of life in either vehicle.
McBeth was pronounced dead at the scene while Kotfila was transported to a nearby hospital, where he later died from his injuries.
This officer didn’t have to do what he did by any means, but he did, to save a life. We do not deserve such men.
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