The family of a Connecticut State Police trooper who died after his cruiser was swept away in floodwaters in Woodbury last week has released a statement.
State law enforcement officials confirmed the trooper, Sgt. Brian Mohl, was on duty at the time his cruiser was overwhelmed by the floodwaters from the Pomperaug River early Thursday morning, making it a line of duty death.
On Sunday, his family released a statement saying in part:
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"We want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. The loss we have suffered is immeasurable. Brian was an incredible person. He was a loving son, brother, husband, father, uncle, and friend and to say he will be missed is just not enough."
"Brian loved being a State Trooper. He proudly served with the Connecticut State Police for over 26 years and those that worked with him said he always had a way of making you feel as though you were part of the team and that he truly cared about them."
"Even though Brian was committed to his work he always found a way to put his family life first. He never lost sight of that. If he wasn’t at work, he was spending time with us. Brian’s love for his family was larger than life. He had a special way about him with his kindness, humor and warmth."
"Seeing the outpouring of prayers and support from the Connecticut State Police, the New York State Police, the law enforcement community and the community as a whole has deeply touched our hearts. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for all of your compassion."
The family is asking for privacy during this time.
Col. Stavros Mellekas described Mohl as a well-respected senior sergeant who has served 26 years with the department. He started at the State Police Training Academy on November 25, 1994, and graduated the following June. He was first assigned to Troop A in Southbury before being transferred to Troop L when he was promoted to sergeant in 2000. He has also served at Troop B in North Canaan, Troop G in Bridgeport and Troop H in Hartford.
This is the 25th line of duty death recorded in Connecticut State Police history.
Heavy rain swept through the state between last Wednesday and early last Thursday morning as the remnants of Ida moved through. State police said a trooper who was on duty contacted state police around 3:30 a.m. and said he was in distress and that his cruiser was being swept away in the area of Jack’s Bridge.
The cruiser was found later that morning and the trooper was located and flown to Yale New Haven Hospital, officials said.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Mohl died of blunt force trauma and his death was ruled an accident.
"Every time an officer puts on that uniform and leaves the door they're putting themselves in harm's way," Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, who represents the district, said. "And I don't think that any one of us thought that we would be having a press conference to discuss an officer passing away during a weather event, but literally that's what this job entails."
Gov. Ned Lamont ordered flags to half-staff in honor of Sgt. Mohl.
The area, which is along the Pomperaug River, is prone to flooding, fire officials said. Boats, helicopters and additional emergency vehicles were called in for the search.
The exact circumstances of what led up to the death, including how high the water rose, remains under investigation.