COLUMBUS, Ohio – Natural Resource Officer Jason Lagore, who died in the line of duty earlier this year, was posthumously honored by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz. The Director’s Award of Valor was presented to Officer Lagore’s wife in a small ceremony last week.
“Back in February we lost not only a dedicated officer, but a loving husband and devoted father,” Director Mertz said. “Because of his courage and bravery in the face of danger, there is no one more deserving of this honor. I am proud of the work he did and the legacy he leaves behind.”
Officer Lagore responded to a call on Feb. 23 that two children had fallen through the ice at Rocky Fork State Park in Highland County. A 13-year-old boy was rescued; a 15-year-old girl died.
During the search, Lagore suffered a medical emergency and was taken to Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro, where he was pronounced deceased.
Officer Lagore served 15 years with ODNR. He was an innovative member of the team, responsible for the first ODNR K-9 academy and leading the Division of Parks and Watercraft K-9 training program. He was well respected across the state for his expertise working with K-9s.
“For us, this isn’t a job. It’s a mission, a calling. It’s a way to get some grieving family an answer to a mystery and tragedy more quickly.” — Officer Jason Lagore
When he wasn’t proudly serving ODNR, Officer Lagore enjoyed deer and turkey hunting, loved history, and enjoyed vacations with his family. He is survived by his wife Michelle, his two young sons, and his K9 partner, Sarge, who was officially retired from service last week.
Earlier this year ODNR honored three other officers with the Director’s Award of Valor. Officers Jason Keller, Eric Lamb, and Matt Roberts were recognized for their lifesaving actions after Ohio Wildlife Investigator Kevin Behr was shot while on assignment in December 2020.