Sgt. Mike Gaines
Sgt. Mike Gaines

Publisher's note: On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District’s Rainsboro station was called to Rocky Fork Lake for two teens who had fallen through the ice and were in immediate peril. During the initial phase of the rescue, an Ohio Division of Natural Resources Officer, Jason Lagore, suffered a medical emergency at the scene and passed away after his response to rescue the victims. Highland County almost lost another law enforcement officer that same evening. This is Sgt. Mike Gaines' story. It speaks volumes for everyone who has put on the uniform and placed his or her life on the line in the name of honorable dedication and service in the name of law enforcement. May God bless these true public servants. Thank you for your service.

By Mike Gaines
Highland County Sheriff's Office

With the exception of six months, I’ve worked for the Highland County Sheriff’s Office since I was 20 years old. (I’m older than that now.)

My last shift was supposed to be tonight but because someone almost killed me with a one-ton truck, my last working shift was 2 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24.

I would like to say thank you to some people – to name a few – for the opportunities and relationships I’ve made over the years: Former Sheriffs Ron Ward and Richard Warner, Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera; Chief Deputies Monty Rayburn and Chuck Middleton; Sgts. Chris Bowen, Randy Sanders and Ben Reno, Shana Reffitt and Scotty Miller; Lt. Keith Brown; Deputies Ronnie Hughes, Dustin Malone, JD Adams, Steve Alexander, Dan Hopkins, Ryan Miller and Jennifer Schinkal; and Detectives Erica Engle and Vinny Antinore.

The young guys at the office are top-notch too, Goen, McMillan, Myers and Farva.

Randy Sanders is the best cop I’ve ever known – but I’d never tell him that. Chris Bowen is right behind him.

Special thanks to Sheriff Ward for taking a chance on a young kid a long time ago and Sheriff Barrera for promoting me to sergeant.

If I missed someone, I mean no disrespect, this is a hard thing to write.

Thank you to the judges and the Prosecutor Anneka P. Collins, for their professionalism and guidance. Jim Roeder, thank you for making me look taller!

And most importantly, thank you to my beautiful wife, Tessa Gaines, for all the sacrifices and patience she has given me through the years. All the times you went to dinners without me and the nights without me, holidays and birthdays.

That time you started to have our first daughter and I was on the road, working overtime. That time I got taken to hospital with bleach thrown in my eyes and didn’t tell you. That other time I waited two hours to call you because I was in the hospital after getting hit by a truck. The times I’ve had guns pulled on me or the times I’ve talked guns out of people’s hands. All the crap you have had to endure – and you’ve always been there for me, with me, beside me.

Everyone reading this knows how lucky I am. Everyone has said numerous times that she’s a saint or even a unicorn! They are all right. God was really looking out for me when he let me find you. You are the only woman who could ever put up with me. I love you and I appreciate everything you’ve done.

I’ve always tried to do the right thing and always helped people as much as I could – even in times I was scared to death – and there’s been plenty of those. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful things doing this job and some of the most horrible things because of it, visions that I can’t get out of my head. It has all been worth it.

I’ve never once gone to work in a bad mood, because I loved my job. I've always had the best of intentions, and I’ve always been able to sleep well because of it.

I’ve developed lifelong friendships because of this job and been all over the country with JD and Dustin.

I’ve always had fun at work, and I definitely went out with a bang.

• Publisher's note: The Highland County Press requested comment on this incident from the Highland County Sheriff's Office prior to publication. Sheriff Barrera has not commented on the injured officer.