ODNR officer dies while responding to rescue at Rocky Fork Lake

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Officer Jason Lagore died after suffering a medical emergency while responding to a water rescue at a Highland County park. Photo courtesy the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
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Ohio Department of Natural Resources Officer Jason Lagore died after suffering a medical emergency while responding to a water rescue at a Highland County park. Photo courtesy the Ohio Department of Natural Resources

16-year-old also died while saving her younger brother, officials say

An Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer died while responding to a rescue at a Highland County lake where two teens fell through ice Tuesday evening.

Officer Jason Lagore suffered a medical emergency while searching the lake at Rocky Fork State Park. He was taken to Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro, where he was pronounced dead.

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“Our hearts are with the family and loved ones of Officer Jason Lagore, who died in the line of duty last night,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Our law enforcement officers and their families carry a unique and challenging burden of responsibilities, and we are deeply grateful for their service.”

A 16-year-old girl died after she was able to get her 13-year-old brother out of the water, according to a report from the Associated Press. He was transported to the hospital in stable condition.

The girl was found unresponsive by divers. She was also taken to the hospital, but later pronounced dead.

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Neither have been identified at this time. ODNR is continuing to investigate the incident.

“This is a horrible, horrible tragedy and thoughts go out with both families,” Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

DeWine ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at all public buildings and grounds in Highland County and at the Ohio Statehouse, the Vern Riffe Center and Rhodes State Office Tower in honor of Lagore. The order is running at the same time as yesterday’s statewide order to lower flags in honor of the 500,000 Americans killed in the coronavirus pandemic.

Flags in Highland County, the Ohio Statehouse, the Vern Riffe Center and Rhodes State Office Tower will remain at half-staff until sunset the day of Lagore’s funeral.

Lagore served ODNR for 15 years and was responsible for the department’s first K-9 academy. He also led the Division of Parks and Watercraft K-9 training program and was respected across Ohio for his skill with K-9s, according to ODNR.

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He enjoyed deer and turkey hunting, loved history and enjoyed vacationing with his family.

Lagore is survived by his wife Michelle, two young sons and his K-9 partner Sarge.