TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A bicyclist who died Wednesday morning after hitting a downed power line on the Courtney Campbell Causeway was an FWC officer who had recently helped save someone’s life.
Tampa police say Gregory Patterson, 47, of Tampa, was riding his bicycle on a bike path along the Courtney Campbell Causeway when he came in contact with a downed power line around 6:40 a.m. He died as a result of his injuries.
It happened near the Whiskey Joe’s restaurant which is near Ben T Davis Beach.
Although it appears that he was electrocuted, police say the Medical Examiner will make the final determination.
No details have been release regarding what caused the electrical wire to fall from a nearby power pole.
TECO Spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs talked about recognizing whether a downed line is live or dead.
“Sometimes it is obvious. Sometimes it sparks and moves and arcs and makes noise. But a lot of times, it doesn’t. It just looks like a wire. And it’s so important for folks, if you see a line down, presume it is a power line and presume it is live,” Jacobs said.
The line only supplies power to street lights so there weren’t reports from residents or business owners, Jacobs said. “We did have a report that the street lights were out on the Courtney Campbell. Traffic lights were working; street lights were out. We did not get a report of the line being down until much later,” she added.
The accident rattled Todd Winters, who rides his bike in the area,
“I got a text from one of my friends, saying, hey, are you okay? And, I responded, yes I’m okay, are you okay? He goes, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t on the bike trail this morning,” said Winters.
“It’s terrible. I cannot even imagine. I noticed last night the storms were really bad and so I assume the wire was down from the storm?”
Tampa police say Patterson was an active officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. On Saturday, July 9, he was involved in lifesaving mission and the Tampa Police Department was nominating him for a department lifesaving award.
Patterson responded to an emergency call at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday about a capsized jet ski near the Gandy Bridge. Three jet ski riders were being carried by the current and were struggling in the water.
Tampa Police Department officers prevented the victims from being carried away by the tide while FWC responded to assist. FWC Officers Greg Patterson and Richard Dearborn responded in their watercraft.
Upon arriving, Officer Patterson dove into the water to assist the victim who was struggling the most, while holding onto the throw rope. The victims were assisted into the boat, one by one, and all three were transported to the Gandy boat ramp where a Tampa Fire Rescue crew was waiting.
Major Roger Young is an FWC supervisor.
“Yes, we’re a very tight knit group. We all spend a lot of time together during work and after work. Most of our families know each other very well. It’s a loss that’s going to hit home for a lot of our officers,” Young said. “We’re all just taken back by the loss. And it’s kind of a tragedy; we’re all kind of in shock right now.”