John C. Hagerty

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper John C. Hagerty

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.

Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916 or bthompson@chronicleonline.com.

(2) comments

MAEL

His mother was Elizabeth Hagerty who taught school for many years in Lecanto and Crystal River.

CRabe

Thank you! Here's a story about a man with local connections (it's even the headline) yet the writer can't even be bothered to tell us what it is. We have to rely on readers to complete the story.

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