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Law enforcement agencies hold boat procession for fallen officers

Sixteen law enforcement boats trolled in silence down the Hillsborough River on Tuesday night as part of the procession.
Several downtown buildings are seen lit in blue light Wednesday, March 10, 2021 in Tampa. Various buildings, bridges and other locations throughout Tampa Bay were lit blue in honor of Tampa Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen who was killed by a wrong way driver Tuesday.
Several downtown buildings are seen lit in blue light Wednesday, March 10, 2021 in Tampa. Various buildings, bridges and other locations throughout Tampa Bay were lit blue in honor of Tampa Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen who was killed by a wrong way driver Tuesday. [ Photo courtesy of Tammie Bishop ]
Published Mar. 17, 2021
Updated Mar. 17, 2021

TAMPA — The Hillsborough River went silent Tuesday night as many gathered to honor the death of Tampa Police Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen.

Sixteen boats - one for each year Madsen served before he was killed by a wrong-way driver on March 9 - moved down the river in a somber procession. The event was in remembrance of the lives of three officers who were killed this year in Tampa Bay, including Madsen. They lit the river blue with flashing lights as they slowly trolled from the Platt Street Bridge to Armature Works just before 9 p.m.

Also honored were Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael J. Magli and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian LaVigne, according to its organizer, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Like Madsen, all three were fathers — and all three were killed in traffic crashes.

Each vessel came from a different agency, including the Sheriff’s Offices in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee and Polk counties; the police departments in Tampa, New Port Richey and Treasure Island; and the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force.

Related: Officer Jesse Madsen hailed at funeral for seeing everyone as family

Earlier Tuesday, thousands attended the funeral of Madsen in Tampa, where he was hailed as a hero. Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said the officer sacrificed himself in order to stop a wrong-way driver from killing someone else.

“Was he Superman? Batman? Tony Stark? No, he was Jesse Madsen,” Dugan said during the officer’s memorial service. “Those fictitious superheroes got nothing on him.”

 Officers Mike Strom (left) and Jesse Madsen speak outside their squad car while patroling Nebraska Avenue.
Officers Mike Strom (left) and Jesse Madsen speak outside their squad car while patroling Nebraska Avenue. [ CRYSTAL L. LAUDERDALE | Times ]

Madsen, 45, had served three tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. military before taking up law enforcement. He joined the Marines in 1994 and suffered a serious injury when an improvised explosive device exploded under his Humvee. Still, he finished his tour of duty and earned awards for his service.

At the Tampa Police Department, Madsen earned eight life-saving awards as well as four excellent duty awards, one unit citation, 17 letters of appreciation, three certificates of appreciation and now, in death, the Police Purple Shield and Police Medal of Honor. He also earned one additional life-saving award for his final act.

The funeral services for Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen at Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd. Idlewild Baptist Church 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Lutz. The 45-year-old master patrol officer, a husband and father of three who died after deliberately steering his patrol SUV into the path of a speeding driver.
The funeral services for Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen at Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd. Idlewild Baptist Church 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Lutz. The 45-year-old master patrol officer, a husband and father of three who died after deliberately steering his patrol SUV into the path of a speeding driver. [ HAND OUT | Tampa Police Department ]