ELYRIA, Ohio — A former Ohio State football player died in a house fire in Elyria Tuesday, according to the Elyria Fire Department.
Crews responded to an apartment building in the 200 block of Washington Avenue around 2:20 a.m.
When firefighters arrived, they found 27-year-old De'van Bogard inside of the door.
"He got out of his bedroom and was attempting to get out, and our crews found him within two feet of the door," said Elyria Fire Chief Joe Pronesti.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bogard was a standout football player at Glennville High School and signed with Ohio State in 2012. He was a teammate to many, but to Justin Hardee, he was a teammate off of the field, too.
"Devan was my best friend since the seventh grade," said Hardee. "We were always having but most importantly, working hard. We worked so hard to change our situations."
After Ohio State, Bogard moved back to Northeast Ohio where he became an assistant football coach at Elyria High School.
"He was a loving, caring person. He loved kids. He loved his interactions with the kids," said Hardee.
The school district released the following statement on his death:
"Our student-athletes and coaching staff are grieving his loss. The team is very connected. De’van was a valued member of the coaching staff. He held a pivotal role on the team and in the development of the players as students and athletes. The students received this news in a very supported environment today at school. Counselors and grief specialists were on hand for the staff and students and will be available throughout the week at school. As a district we offer our deepest sympathies to De’van’s family and friends."
Hardee said despite his accolades, Bogart's highest achievement was being a devoted dad to his 5-year-old son.
"He loved coaching, and of course, had the desire to be a high school head coach. He didn't want to leave the state at all because he wanted to be close to his son. His son was literally his world. That’s all he worked for, that’s all he talked about, that gave him a smile, even when he went through his trials and tribulations in college football with injuries and stuff his son gave him joy back to life," he said.
It's a loss that Hardee said is unbelievable.
"It’s sad that God called him this early. I can’t believe it, but I guess God needed more people like him up there."
Pronesti said the cause of the fire is accidental and non-suspicious. They believe it started near a couch in the living room.
He wants to remind people of both the value of smoke detectors and of closing your bedroom door when you go to sleep to potentially buy more time in case of a fire.
"Smoke detectors save lives. Check your smoke detectors and, more importantly, now we are stressing to close your bedroom door," said Pronesti. "If the fire is not in your room, if you close your door research has shown that bedroom doors will buy you time, so we can get there or you can get to a window."
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