Highland County, OH – Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Officer Jason Lagore died in the line of duty on Tuesday night while trying to rescue two children who had fallen through the ice.
The incident began at approximately 6:30 p.m., when officers received a call that two people had fallen through the ice near the North Shore boat docks at Rocky Fork State Park, the ODNR said in a press release on Wednesday afternoon.
A 13-year-old boy managed to get out of the icy water and was transported to the hospital in stable condition.
Divers were ultimately able to locate the second victim – a 16-year-old girl – but she was unresponsive, the ODNR said.
She had been trapped beneath the ice for four hours, The Enquirer reported.
The teen was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to the ODNR.
As he was searching for the victims, 38-year-old Officer Lagore suffered a medical emergency and was transported to Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro.
The 15-year law enforcement veteran was later pronounced dead, according to his agency.
The exact nature of his medical emergency has not been released.
“Our hearts are with the family and loved ones of Officer Jason Lagore, who died in the line of duty last night,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said in the press release. “Our law enforcement officers and their families carry a unique and challenging burden of responsibilities, and we are deeply grateful for their service.”
His agency described him as a “dedicated officer” who left a lasting impact on the department.
“He was responsible for the first ODNR K-9 academy, led the Division of Parks and Watercraft K-9 training program, and was well respected across the state for his expertise working with K-9s,” the ODNR said.
Officer Lagore leaves behind his wife, Michelle, his two young sons, and his partner, K9 Sarge.
“Broken ice and the frigid black water beneath can only be terrifying – Dante’s deepest circle of Hell is ice, and not flames,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a press release, according to WSYX.
“Officer Lagore acted with extreme courage to go to the rescue of these two kids; his example demonstrates the very highest valor,” Yost wrote. “My deepest sympathies are with his family, the family of the girl he could not rescue and his colleagues. I pray for comfort for all those who mourn.”
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered flags be lowered to half staff in honor of the fallen officer.
Coroner tells me preliminary reports indicate ODNR Officer Jason LaGore died from a heart issue while responding to a water rescue last night in Highland County. @wlwt pic.twitter.com/YDQs2wIAJd
— Karin Johnson WLWT (@karinjohnson) February 24, 2021
Ofc Jason Lagore
The OH Division of Natural Resources is mourning the loss of one of their own, 38yr old Ofc Lagore. Lagore died last night while trying to rescue 2 teens who had fallen into an icy lake. He was a K9 handler for 9yrs. He leaves behind a wife &2 kids pic.twitter.com/w6KvxLTdRb
— K9s of Valor (@k9sofvalor) February 24, 2021
Fran and I offer our deepest condolences to Officer Lagore's family and his colleagues at @ohiodnr. In honor of his life and service, I've ordered flags lowered on public buildings and grounds in Highland County, and at the Statehouse, Riffe Center, and Rhodes Tower in Columbus. https://t.co/kNPY5yXV4l
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) February 24, 2021
The Senate observes a moment of silence honoring the life and service of Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer Jason Lagore. @ohiodnr pic.twitter.com/B67QSDXrOH
— Ohio Senate GOP (@OhioSenateGOP) February 24, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ohio Department of Natural Resources Officer Jason Lagore, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.