The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is mourning the loss of one of its own this morning. Deputy Eddie Wotipka, 51, drowned in a canal near West Cedar Bayou Lynchburg Road and Thompson Road in East Harris County while trying to rescue his dog.
Deputy Wotipka had just arrived home from his evening shift as a patrol deputy in District 3 when neighbors alerted him to dogs near the canal not far from his home. Deputy Wotipka, still wearing his uniform, went to check on the situation. That’s when his own dog either fell or jumped in the water.
In an effort to save his dog, Deputy Wotipka took off his weapon and radio and jumped in the waterway. A witness saw him go under, come up and go under again. That’s when Deputy Wotipka’s wife, Karen, jumped in the water to save him. Deputy Wotipka never resurfaced. Witnesses were able to get Mrs. Wotipka to dry land.
HCSO’s marine unit and dive team, with the assistance of the Houston Police Department’s helicopter, arduously searched for Deputy Wotipka for several hours. His body was located at approximately 5 a.m. some 100-150 feet from where he originally jumped in. The body of the dog was also recovered.
Deputy Wotipka served with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office since 1993. His is survived by his wife Karen and two children, ages 24 and 26.
Funeral arrangements are pending.