JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating after the weekend drowning of a 20-year-old handcuffed man who was suspected of boating while intoxicated at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Brandon Ellingson of Clive, Iowa, had been placed in a life vest and was being transported for a sobriety test late Saturday afternoon, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Paul Reinsch on Monday.
The patrol’s incident report indicates that Ellingson stood up while the boat was moving, stepped to the edge of the right side and fell or jumped overboard. Reinsch said the trooper transporting Ellingson entered the water but was not able to rescue him.
Reinsch said authorities are trying to determine how Ellingson’s life vest came off. He said using handcuffs are normal when someone is arrested.
The trooper and Ellingson were on the only people aboard the boat. Reinsch said the trooper has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure after a trooper is involved in a death. He said the investigation is likely to take at least a week.
“Any time we have a critical incident involving a trooper and death, there is a review,” Reinsch said. “We’re still trying to complete those reports and determine exactly step-by-step what happened.”
Reinsch did not identify the trooper.
The Highway Patrol’s dive team recovered Ellingson’s body around 11:30 a.m. Sunday in about 80 feet of water.
The Lake of the Ozarks is a popular boating and water sports destination that attracts tourists from throughout the Midwest. The lake is formed by a power company dam and is about an hour southwest of Jefferson City.
Ellingson had been attending Arizona State University.
Associated Press writer Maria Fisher contributed to this report from Kansas City.