Skip to Content

Lack of water training brought up at second Highway Patrol meeting

A second hearing wrapped up Tuesday looking into the 2011 merger of the Water Patrol into the State Highway Patrol.

The hearing was to review how the division is managed, training troopers receive, and overall cost benefit the state has realized from the merger.

The merger of the two patrols was an effort to save the state money.

The hearing comes five months after 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson drowned while in Highway Patrol custody at the Lake of the Ozarks.

The trooper involved said he did not have adequate training to be on the water.

There were about 30 protesters waiting outside the meeting at Osage Beach City Hall saying, “justice for Brandon.”

A major development in this story was revealed Tuesday through an email from Lt. Clardy to Sgt. Randy Henry to sign off on some road officers saying they have demonstrated a reasonable level of competence in donzi navigation on the waters of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Donzis are the type of Water Patrol boat used.

The email went on to say, “quite frankly, this limited group of officers gives me no concern on judgement, interaction, enforcement, etc.”

The Ellingsons’ lawyer, Matt Boles, said the email shows Lt. Clardy knew there was no actual training happening for road officers who were part time on the water, which was something that was brought up on October 1 at the first hearing on the merger.

At the first hearing, Sgt. Randy Henry brought to the committee’s attention the lack of Water Patrol training.

Henry mentioned some part time marine troopers never even passed a swimming test. He took the stand Tuesday, but not in uniform.

“On October 2, I was advised by Highway Patrol’s legal counsel that when I am on state time I represent them and are required to support their views. I am here today on my own time, not representing Missouri Highway Patrol,” said Henry.

Henry went on to say he was not allowed to answer questions directly related to Ellingson’s death but said, “The training that occurred before May 31, 2014, was deficient and should not be an excuse for poor judgement or reckless negligence and operations.”

Lieutenant Dave Wall who was with Water Patrol for more than 30 years said water training now is inadequate and not a top priority.

“Right now I feel the mission of the Highway Patrol, that highway safety is foremost and marine law enforcement is very much secondary. Unless we reach some common ground on how marine enforcement will be managed and give it the importance it deserves in this state, the incidences we have seen in this state for the last four years I feel will continue,” said Wall.

Brandon Ellingson’s father, Craig, and protesters are fighting to change that.

“I think it was not a success if you base it on monetary funding and training. I mean their training is not transparent,” said Ellingson.

Committee Chair Diane Franklin said more training will be on the written recommendation to the Speaker of the House.

“I think everyone agrees that we must have the level of swimming training that the Water Patrol had,” said Franklin.

Franklin said there will be three more hearings around the state about the merger. The next one will be November 5th in Jefferson City, and the two others will be held in St. Joseph and in southwest Missouri.

She said the committee hopes to make its written recommendation in December.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

ABC 17 News Team


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content