TAMPA, FL -- Local authorities found a special way to honor a deputy who died in the line of duty.

Deputy John Kotfila, Jr. was an officer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Despite his family telling him he was too busy, he bought a German Shepherd named Dexter and quickly built a strong bond.

Saturday, he was dedicated with the official opening of the Deputy Kotfila Memorial Dog Park.

Kotfila, 30, died last year when he crashed into a wrong way driver on the Selmon Expressway.

His loved ones and law enforcement family were there for the dedication.

“He was born with the eye of the tiger and he had the heart of a lion. He was five months premature and he was very small but that never stopped him. Didn’t stop him that day and didn’t stop him in life,” said John Kotfila, Sr., his father.

The park is located in Channelside, underneath the Selmon Expressway, the same highway where he died. His family is glad he will now be remembered for the dog park, not the crash.

Dexter is now back in Connecticut where Kotfila’s mom and dad take care of him. They hope to bring him down to visit the dog park soon.

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