Hilliard Northwest News

Davidson graduate had 'big heart' for animals

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Hilliard Davidson graduate Kyle Miller's goal in life was to work outdoors while preserving wildlife and rescuing animals.

Miller, 21, was trying to rescue his own dog March 15 when he drowned in a lake at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in western Franklin County

Miller was a junior in the zoo and conservation science program at Otterbein University. Saturday, March 15, was the school's first day of spring break.

Anna Young, an Otterbein professor, said Miller had been her student since January 2013, when he transferred to the school as a zoo and conservation science major.

She described him as friendly and polite.

"He always had a positive attitude," Young said in an email.

Miller was the only student in his class who volunteered to cover a shift at the Ohio Wildlife Center during spring break, even though it was not required, Young said.

"He had such a big heart" for the welfare of animals, Young said.

Young said Miller wanted to work for SCRAM!, a nonlethal, animal-control service associated with the Ohio Wildlife Center.

Young said she spoke with Miller two days before the accident about applying for a summer position with the organization.

Miller was also interested in traveling to Alaska and working outdoors, Young said.

Miller, a 2010 graduate of Davidson High School, and Austin Gifford, 19, a 2012 graduate of Darby High School and also an Otterbein student, were in separate kayaks on one of the Darby Bend Lakes at Prairie Oaks Metro Park just before 11 a.m. March 15 when both men fell into the lake in an attempt to rescue Miller's dog, which had been in his kayak, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Gifford was able to swim to shore for help, but Miller was overcome by the 30-degree water temperature, The Dispatch reported.

Divers from the Norwich Township Fire Department assisted other departments in a rescue effort March 15, searching for hours before suspending the search because of the weather, Hilliard Police Chief Doug Francis reported via social media.

Rescue workers returned the following morning and found Miller's body at about 2 p.m. March 16.

Miller was a member of the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church and a member of the track team at Otterbein.

He is survived by his parents, Craig and Pam Miller; his sister, Ashlin; and his grandparents, Robert and Jane Thomas, and Josephine Miller.

A funeral was scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 19, at the Upper Arlington Lutheran Church at Mill Run.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Ohio Wildlife Center, 2662 Billingsley Road in Columbus.

Dispatch reporter Holly Zachariah contributed to this story.

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