Fallen deputy hailed a ‘hero’ for acting as ‘human shield’ in wrong-way crash

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TAMPA, Fla. — A fallen deputy in Florida is being hailed a hero for acting as a human shield in a wrong-way crash that took his life.

According to WFLA, a woman called 911 after seeing a wrong-way driver on the expressway.

Now, that same woman said she believes Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy John Robert Kotfila Jr. saved her life by intentionally driving into the path of the oncoming vehicle to prevent it from hitting her.

Sarah Geren told WFLA that she and her boyfriend were driving home from work early Saturday morning when a vehicle driven by 31-year-old Erik McBeth came barreling toward her, driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of the Leroy Selmon Expressway.

“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,” Geren told WFLA.

She said she is sure the deputy saw the oncoming vehicle and intentionally sacrificed himself to save her life.

“This man put himself in front of us as a human shield,” Geren said. “He definitely saw what was going on. When I take a step back and look at the way everything occurred, he absolutely was a human shield for us.”

Geren said she will always consider Kotfila her hero.

Deputies say the wrong-way driver was also killed in the crash. They are awaiting toxicology results, which will reveal if McBeth was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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