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Hero Down: Ohio County Deputy James ‘Jerry’ Critchelow Dies After Heart Attack While Directing School Traffic

Lexington, KY – Ohio County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) Deputy James “Jerry” Critchelow died in the line of duty on April 20, five days after he suffered a heart attack while directing traffic at a school.

Deputy Critchelow, 65, began experiencing symptoms of a heart attack as he was directing school traffic the morning of April 15, according to Supporting Heroes, a Louisville nonprofit organization that supports the families of first responders killed in the line of duty.

He subsequently drove himself to a medical facility, but his condition continued to deteriorate and he went into cardiac arrest.

Doctors stabilized him and Deputy Critchelow was then airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington for more advanced care, Supporting Heroes said.

He remained hospitalized until his death on April 20.

Deputy Critchelow served the Kentucky State Police for three decades prior to joining the OCSO as a school resource officer, according to his obituary.

He had been with the OCSO for the past 13 years, the Messenger-Inquirer reported.

“The Ohio County Sheriff’s Office is saddened to announce that we have suffered a great loss in the passing of Retired Trooper, and now Deputy, Jerry Critchelow,” Ohio County Sheriff Tracy Beatty said in a Facebook post on April 20. “Deputy Critchelow has been a role model and mentor for many people, including our law enforcement officers, and has dedicated his life to the safety and security of our citizens.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as we mourn the loss of a fellow officer,” Sheriff Beatty added.

Ohio County High School Principal Alex Embry said he worked with Deputy Critchelow for the past 10 years.

“He’s been a staple at the high school my whole career,” Embry told the Messenger-Inquirer. “Officer Critchelow was a lot to a lot of people. He played a lot of different roles. He was a retired trooper and was here working because he loved the kids. You can see that based on the impact he made to so many people.”

Deputy Critchelow leaves behind his wife, Gail, as well as his daughters, his daughter-in-law, and his granddaughters, according to his obituary.

He is also survived by his mother, siblings, nephews, and nieces.

“He never met a stranger, never said no to someone in need, and was a breath of fresh air,” the tribute read. “He loved his family, his law enforcement families, his students, and all the staff at Ohio County High School. He was born to serve and make people feel loved.”

Deputy Critchelow will be laid to rest on April 23.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ohio County Sheriff’s Office Deputy James “Jerry” Critchelow, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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