Harris County deputy drowns near Baytown
Deputy Eddie WotipkaBy DALE LEZON
A Harris County Sheriff's deputy drowned after he jumped into a swift-moving drainage canal to save his pet dog late Thursday night near Baytown. His wife leaped into the water to save him, but she was unable to reach him and bystanders pulled her from the current.
Deputy Eddie Wotipka, 51, plunged into the waterway near West Cedar Bayou Lynchberg Road and Thompson Road about 11:15 p.m. after one of his dogs went into the canal, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. He was still in uniform and hadn't signed off from his shift, officials said.
Sheriff's Office divers and marine units searching the waterway found his body about 5 a.m. in the canal about 150 feet from where witnesses said he went under water. They also found the body of dog.
Investigators said Wotipka, who has worked for the Sheriff's Office since 1993, returned home during his evening shift as a patrol deputy in District 3 when his neighbors told him dogs were near the canal not far from his home.
Wotipka then saw his own dog either fall or jump into the water.
The deputy took off his radio and gun and plunged into the canal to save his pet. Witnesses told investigators they saw Wotipka go under water, resurface and then go under water again.
Wotipka's wife, Karen, jumped into the water to save him, but the deputy didn't resurface. Witnesses pulled his wife from the water.
Along with his wife, Wotkipa also leaves behind two children, ages 26 and 24.
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