A Florida Highway Patrol trooper who died in the line of duty almost 50 years ago was honored and memorialized Wednesday when state officials renamed a portion of an interstate after him.
During an afternoon ceremony in Polk County, state officials designated Interstate 4, between mileposts 36 and 44 near Lakeland, as “Trooper John C. Hagerty Memorial Highway.”
Hagerty joined Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) in October 1956, serving a 13 years between Frostproof, Punta Gorda, Stuart and Orlando, according to FHP.
Hagerty died on March 18, 1970, after a low-flying U.S. Navy jet struck and split FHP’s traffic aircraft that Hagerty was piloting over Lakeland.
Following the collision, the fuselage of Hagerty’s plane, with Hagerty inside, fell into a swamp near the stretch of I-4 that’s now named after the trooper, according to FHP.
Hagerty was pronounced dead at Lakeland General Hospital. He was 44. He’s buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Lecanto.