A veteran Connecticut State Police sergeant was found dead on Thursday after his cruiser was washed away by floodwater from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Sgt. Brian Mohl, 50, was working on a midnight shift in the town of Woodbury when the storm brought torrential rains across the Northeast, sparking flash flood alerts.
At 3:30am, Mohl radioed for help saying that his cruiser was being swept away near Jack’s Bridge, over the Weekepeemee River, state police Col. Stavros Mellekas said.
‘Troop L received an emergency call from the sergeant that his vehicle was in swift water and that he was in distress. That was the last they heard of him.’ Mellekas said at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.
Rescue crews scrambled to help but could not locate the cruiser or Mohl.
Troopers tried contacting him, and even pinged the sergeant’s cell phone to find out his location but were unable to find him.
‘We sent all assets right away with the fire departments, dive teams — everything you could imagine,’ Mellekas said.
Sgt. Brian Mohl, a 26-year veteran of the Woodbury department Connecticut State Police
Sgt Brian Mohl (center) with his wife Susan (left) and one of his three children, Samantha (right)
Once the water from the heavy flooding started to go away, state law enforcement began a search of the area on the ground and in the air.
Nine fire departments, six boats, three helicopters were involved in the operation.
Police choppers located Mohl’s vehicle ‘mostly submerged’ in the river after daybreak, but the missing sergeant was not inside.
He was found in the river about an hour later and brought ashore, but was pronounced dead at hospital.
Janet Morgan, Woodbury’s Fire Chief, said it was difficult to locate Mohl, mentioning that there are 47 known spots where flooding can occur in the area.
‘We had people out in the area knowing where the floods were and recording that to the [police department].’
‘Up until midnight, we didn’t have any flooding, and then it just took off,’ she added.
Mohl was a 26-year veteran of the department, and was assigned to Troop L in Litchfield, 15-miles away from Woodbury.
‘It’s just a tragedy,’ Mellekas said.
‘Every line of duty death is heartbreaking and the loss of Sgt. Mohl is no different.’
Susan (left) and Brian Mohl (right), who had 26 years of service in the Woodbury department prior to his unexpected death on Thursday
Governor Ned Lamont (pictured) also expressed his condolences at a press conference, saying ‘As a trooper, you go out and you look and you try to rescue others — take care of them’
‘He was outside, in the middle of the night, in horrendous conditions, patrolling the Troop L area. He was doing a job he loved and he was taken much too soon,’ Colonel Mellekas added.
The Officer Down Memorial Page has reported 31 line of duty deaths caused by drowning since 2010, including Mohl’s recent death.
The sergeant joined the State Police training academy in November 1994 and graduated in June 1995 before being assigned to Troop A in Southbury.
He was then promoted to sergeant in May 2000 and held the rank in different areas of Connecticut until his death, Connecticut State Police said in a statement Thursday evening.
Trooper First Class Pedro Muniz said the sergeant’s unexpected death is a tough time for Mohl’s family and and his fellow troopers at Connecticut State Police.
‘We just ask that everybody keep us and the family in their thoughts and their prayers as we endure this tough time right now,’ Muniz said.
Mohl is survived by his wife, Susan, and three children — Brian Mohl Jr. (14), Samantha Ganem (24) and Peter Ganem (28) — as well as two brothers who are members of the New York State Police, Maj. George Mohl and Sgt. Scott Mohl.
U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes and Governor Ned Lamont also expressed their condolences at a press conference and ordered the flag to be lowered in Mohl’s honor.
‘I was telling everybody “‘stay safe, stay home, let’s ride out this storm.'” That’s not what you do as a trooper,’ Lamont said. ‘As a trooper, you go out and you look and you try to rescue others — take care of them.’