American Hero: John Kotfila Jr

Father and Sons Heroes: the Kotfila Family

Every day, police officers, firefighters and those in the military put their lives in harm’s way to protect ordinary citizens. Many times their work goes unnoticed.

But on occasion, we hear about their heroic actions in the news, showing just how brave these men and women in uniform can be when called upon.

And so it is with Hillsborough County Deputy Sheriff John Kotfila Jr. who was killed a little over a week ago after his cruiser was hit by a wrong-way driver on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa, Florida. He was only 30.

A witness at the scene, Sarah Geren, told the media that she believed Deputy Kotfila intentionally drove into the path of that other car, preventing her from being hit.  Deputy Kotfila sacrificed himself for the safety of others.

Last night, Deputy Kotfila’s body arrived in Boston, making its way to Falmouth, where he grew up and where his brother Michael currently serves as a police officer. Deputy Kotfila’s father, John Sr., also has ties to law enforcement, serving as a sergeant for the Massachusetts State Police and formerly as an officer in Falmouth.

Falmouth also happens to be where American Sunglass is headquartered, in a community that respects the bravery and heroism of its first responders. It can be seen in the town’s annual displays of patriotism on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, when thousands come out to honor those who serve, have served and have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

It is seen in local organizations like the Falmouth Military Support Group and Heroes in Transition which support current and former military servicemen. And it can be seen in our own company which recognizes the daily contributions and sacrifices made by our first responders to keep us safe.

So when someone like Deputy Kotfila is tragically killed in the line of duty our community grieves. We saw it yesterday on our Main Street as hundreds of people quietly watched, some holding flags, others saluting and others with tears in their eyes as the hearse carrying Deputy Kotfila’s body drove by with a police escort.

There have been several moving photos and videos of the procession shared on social media, all showing the gratitude people have for Deputy Kotfila’s bravery and their heartfelt show of support for his family.  

In a time when many question whether there is good in this world, we only need to point to Deputy Kotfila that there is. He died in the service of others. He died a hero.

A wake will be held for Deputy Kotfila tomorrow (Tuesday, March 22) from 4 to 8 pm at Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home at 475 Main Street in Falmouth with parking available at Peg Noonan Parking Lot, Falmouth Marina and the Falmouth Recreation Center. Deputy Kotfila’s service will take place Wednesday, March 23 at 11 am at St. Patrick’s Church at 511 Main Street.