Ohio police officer fatally struck in high speed chase

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 9:04 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2022 at 4:39 PM EDT
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LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - A Bluffton, Ohio police officer was killed in the line of duty Thursday morning and a chase involving several of the suspects ended in Lorain County.

According to Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Bruce Neihiser, Bluffton Police Officer Dominic Francis died after being hit by the suspect’s vehicle on I-75 near exit 142 in Hancock County around 2:30 a.m.

Officer Dominic Francis
Officer Dominic Francis((Source: blufftonicon.com))

Sgt. Neihiser said Officer Francis was setting up stop sticks because there was an ongoing high-speed chase involving the suspect’s vehicle.

“Today is a sad day, this community lost a hero,” said Bluffton Chief Ryan Burkholder.

After the crash, police said the three suspects fled on foot.

Around 3 a.m., the suspects then allegedly stole a Toyota Prius from a home on County Road 29 in Hancock County. One suspect was arrested near the home where the Prius was stolen.

Several hours later, a trooper spotted the stolen Prius on I-71 in Medina County and began a pursuit.

The suspect’s vehicle was then chased through multiple counties, and at times, officials said speeds reached over 100 mph.

According to officials, the chase ended around 8:15 a.m. on State Route 57, just north of Chestnut Ridge Road in Eaton Township, Lorain County.

Eaton Township, Lorain County
Eaton Township, Lorain County((Source: WOIO))

A second suspect was quickly taken into custody at the scene and the third suspect was arrested around 12:50 Thursday afternoon, troopers said.

The suspect’s names are not being released.

Officer Francis, 41, is described as someone who had a “heart of gold” and was very involved in the community, also working as a coach, teacher and bus driver.

Officer Francis spent 19 years in law enforcement, the last nine with the Bluffton Police Department.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Dominic Francis and the Bluffton Police Department during this incredibly difficult time.

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