A Missouri Highway Patrol trooper attempted to save a Clive man who drowned after being arrested for boating while intoxicated at the Lake of the Ozarks Saturday.
Brandon Ellingson, 20, of Clive, went into the water at the Lake of the Ozarks Saturday evening while being transported for a boating while intoxicated arrest. Officials said Ellingson stood up in the police boat and either fell or jumped in the water.
His body was recovered Sunday morning.
The incident remains under investigation and the officer who arrested Ellingson is on paid administrative leave, which is standard policy for major incidents, Missouri State Patrol Sgt. Paul Reinsch told the Des Moines Register.
Missouri State Highway Patrol policies require anyone arrested to be placed in handcuffs and anyone being transported by boat to have a life vest on.
The Register reports that Ellingson was handcuffed behind his back according to law enforcement officials. Reinsch said the trooper placed a standard “Level 3″ life jacket – the type that resembles a vest and buckles three times in the front – on Ellingson. It came off in the water.
“That is a big part of our investigation,” Reinsch said. “To determine how it came off after it was placed on him.”
The officer jumped into the water and made several attempts to save Ellingson but couldn’t reach him, Reinsch said.
The boats used by the Highway Patrol don’t have seatbelts and, unlike with a squad car, troopers can’t simply lock the doors to keep those arrested inside.
That, combined with the fact that most boats only carry one officer who is tasked with driving the vessel and keeping an eye on the prisoner, creates a unique challenge for troopers on the water, Reinsch said.
“It’s a difficult situation,” he said. “You can’t lock the doors, can’t place them in a seatbelt. It’s very difficult to even stand a boat when it’s moving. So a totally different situation.”
Still, Reinsch could not recall another similar incident for the water patrol.
This was the second drowning death this year at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Ellingson was a graduate of Valley High School and a student at Arizona State University.