LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Louisville metro police officer died Saturday night after being struck by a vehicle on Westbound Interstate 64 on Saturday morning.
LMPD officer Zachary Cottongim was struck by a vehicle when a driver lost control shortly after 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. He was outside his police car “investigating a vehicle” on I-64 west at Mellwood Avenue, LMPD officer Beth Ruoff said.
Cottongim, who has been with LMPD since 2014, died in the University of Louisville hospital.
“A very bright and talented young man,” said LMPD chief Erika Shields. “He was doing his job, like he was doing every day.”
Shields said Cottongim, 29, was trying to move an abandoned vehicle when it was hit.
The first division officer was taken to the University of Louisville hospital with “serious injuries” and was undergoing surgery at 12:30 pm. Shields said medical staff worked “tirelessly” on Cottongim for 10 hours, but were unable to survive the injuries.
Cottongim’s wife and father also work for LMPD, according to Shields. Cottongim also leaves behind two children.
âIt’s absolutely heartbreaking for the department,â Shields said. âThe department is shaken.
“There isn’t much you can offer people, especially when there is such a senseless and preventable death.”
All lanes of I-64 westbound on Mellwood Avenue and I-64 eastbound on Story Avenue were closed for several hours while police investigated the crash. The tracks were reopened around 3:20 p.m.
In a tweet, Mayor Greg Fischer said he was devastated by Cottongim’s death.
I am devastated by the passing of @LMPD Officer Zach Cottongim. Zach’s family is beloved within our LMPD family – his father, Dale and his wife, Jamie. 1/2
– Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) December 19, 2021
“All the prayers of our city go to his family, to his fellow law enforcement officers, to all who cared about him and knew him, and to all who were served by his generous spirit,” said declared Fischer.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear also offered his condolences to the Cottongim family in a tweet.
“I was devastated to learn of the passing of LMPD officer Zach Cottongim this morning. Britainy and I extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones and to all of the LMPD mourning their loss,” said writes Beshear.
“The sacrifice he and his family made to our community can never be repaid, but we are here to do whatever we can to help,” said Metro Council president David James, before recalling a pain familiar around town. holidays.
“It brings back memories of Detective Deidre Mengedoht when she was killed on I-64,” said James, who retired as a Louisville subway police officer and knows all too well what is at stake.
âWe have lost a hero,â said James. “It is important to know that our officers in our city risk their lives every day knowing the risk they are taking and are doing it on our behalf anyway.”
Cottongim trained officers and worked on various details during his time at LMPD.
Shields says LMPD will have to find a way to take care of Cottongim’s wife and two young children, as well as the officers who found him at the crash scene.
“Now we have to navigate, making sure to take care of the particular officers who assisted him at the scene,” Shields said. “It was obviously a very traumatic incident.”
In a statement, the Louisville Metro Council offered its condolences to the officer’s family.
“The dedication of this officer to his community, despite all the risks, should be commended and never be forgotten,” the city council said in a statement. “We stand with you as you suffer this tremendous and heartbreaking loss.”
This story can be updated.
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