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ODNR officer who died at drowning scene was K-9 expert, 15-year veteran

Officers lodge launches memorial fundraiser
WCPO jason lagore.jpeg
Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 12:15:34-05

HILLSBORO, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer who died at the scene of a Tuesday night drowning was a 15-year veteran known for his expertise with K-9s.

ODNR representatives said Officer Jason Lagore experienced an unspecified “medical emergency” while responding to a call for help at Rocky Fork State Park, where 16-year-old Keaira Scott fell through the ice around 6:30 p.m.

READ ABOUT HER: Girl saved her brother, then drowned under ice at Rocky Fork State Park

Lagore had been among the personnel called to rescue Scott but participated only briefly; the emergency forced a rush trip to Highland District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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

Lagore helped lead ODNR’s first-ever K-9 academy and the Division of Parks and Watercraft’s K-9 training program, according to ODNR’s statement on his death.

The only word Loveland-Symmes Fire Department Cpt. Sean McAllister can use for what happened Tuesday night is tragedy.

"It was a night full of them,” he said.

Crews successfully retrieved Scott from under the ice four hours after receiving the initial call, but the girl later died. Her 13-year-old brother, who made that call, was hospitalized with hypothermia.

When McAllister and Task Force 1 got to the scene, they were informed that an ODNR officer had a medical emergency.

"Your mind starts to think about somebody that is a teammate, someone within the public safety family that was there and obviously on that scene. Something horrible happened,” he said.

The news also stunned Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

"I talked this afternoon with a lot of people who had worked with him. I heard nothing but praise,” Yost said.

ODNR’s statement said Lagore enjoyed family vacations, along with deer and turkey hunting. He is survived by his wife Michelle, their two children and his K-9 partner, Sarge.

To help the family, Ohio Natural Resources Officers Lodge 149 has launched a memorial fundraiser.

"We don't always know each other personally,” McAllister continued. “No matter what, when something like this happens, we bond together."

To help Lagore’s family during this time, click here.