The tragic loss of one of my deputies has all of our hearts heavy. The most dreaded part of being sheriff of Hillsborough 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. \ > — Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy John Robert Kotfila, Jr. tragically lost his life when his patrol vehicle was struck head-on by a wrong-way driver on the Selmon Expressway. He succumbed to severe injuries at Tampa General Hospital on March 12, 2016. Deputy Kotfila, Jr. is also being hailed as a hero as it is believed he purposely maneuvered his patrol vehicle in front of another passenger vehicle to avoid innocent drivers from being struck by the wrong-way driver.
A Massachusetts native and six-year veteran of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy John Robert Kotfila, Jr. came from a long line of law enforcement officers dedicated to serving and protecting the public. He was proud to wear the badge and follow a path of public service along with his father, his brother, both of his grandfathers and his uncle.
Deputy Kotfila, Jr. was profoundly respected and well-liked by his peers and by the residents he served. Assigned as a Traffic Crash Investigator for Patrol District 4, he went above and beyond the call of duty, sacrificing many personal hours to assist people involved in crashes and serious incidents, all while maintaining high levels of professionalism and compassion. Fellow officers could count on him for his motivation, loyalty, and dedication to his colleagues and his community. Deputy Kotfila, Jr. was also a founding member of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office SafetyNet Team, a division committed to finding and assisting people with special needs who had wandered from home.
Deputy Kotfila, Jr. leaves behind his parents, his three siblings, and his beloved German shepherd Dexter, along with extended family. Hillsborough County offers our deepest sympathies to the Kotfila family and to the men and women of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. We will forever remember and honor Deputy Kotfila, Jr. for his service and sacrifice.
A memorial account has been established for the family of Deputy Kotfila, Jr. Donations can be accepted through the First Responders Fallen Heroes Fund.