The superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol declined to comment today on the death of an Iowa man who drowned after being arrested by the Water Patrol on the Lake of the Ozarks in May. Corporal Ron Replogle testified during a hearing before a Missouri House Committee on the merger of the state’s Water Patrol into the Highway Patrol.
“Based on the advice of legal counsel and due to probable pending civil litigations, we will not take questions today or make statements concerning the May 31st 2014 drowning death of Brandon Ellingson,” Replogle says. Committee members and its chairwoman, Representative Diane Franklin, had said before the hearing that the committee would not be investigating the Ellingson drowning, but some questions would regard training of troopers following the merger.
The Water Patrol trooper who had the 20 year-old Ellingson of Clive was in custody when he drowned told a coroner’s inquest that he felt he hadn’t received enough training. Ellingson was placed in the trooper’s boat, handcuffed, and
then had a life jacket put on him. The life jacket wasn’t properly fastened and it fell of when the the boat hit a wave and Ellingson fell into the water. Efforts to pull Ellingson from the water failed.
An inquest jury ruled the drowning was an accident and a Missouri special prosecutor announced no charges would be filed against the state trooper. Ellingson’s father Craig is at the hearing today and Replogle says he spoke to him.
“I had the opportunity to talk with Craig Ellingson just before this hearing started to offer my condolences, and I certainly want to do that publicly too for the Ellingson family,” Replogle said. “They have been in my constant thoughts and prayers since this incident and I do offer my and the agency’s condolences on the loss of their son.”
It is not clear whether Craig Ellingson will address the committee. Chairwoman Diane Franklin had previously said she had not asked Ellingson’s family to speak to the committee.
Thanks to Mike Lear of the Missourinet for contributing to this story.