A state trooper has died after his cruiser was swept away in floodwaters in Woodbury early Thursday morning.
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, making this a line of duty death.
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.
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This is the 25th line of duty death recorded in Connecticut State Police history.
Heavy rain swept through the state between Wednesday and early Thursday morning as the remnants of Ida moved through and state police said a state 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 this morning and the trooper was located and flown to Yale New Haven Hospital, officials said.
The officer 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 has ordered flags to half-staff in honor of Sgt. Mohl.
The area, which is along the Pomperaug River, is prone to flowing, 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, remain under investigation.