Sergeant Brian Mohl was a Connecticut State Police trooper who drowned in flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida after his patrol SUV was swept away in Woodbury while he was on duty. Heavy rains from Ida led to flash flooding across the Northeast on September 2, 2021, leading to more than 40 deaths. Mohl was pulled from floodwaters but was pronounced dead as he was being flown to a hospital by helicopter, police said. Mohl served in the state police for more than 26 years.
“It is with deep regret and sadness that I report that the State Police today lost a good man who dedicated more than a quarter-century to protecting the citizens of Connecticut. Sgt. Mohl was committed to helping others, to keeping public safety his priority and to always assisting his fellow Troopers,” Colonel Stavros Mellekas, Commanding Officer of the State Police, said in a statement. “Every line of duty death is heartbreaking and the loss of Sgt. Mohl is no different. 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.”
Mohl, 50, is survived by his wife and children. He was the 25th officer to die in the line of duty in the history of the Connecticut State Police, the department said in a press release. According to The Associated Press, the remnants of Ida led to more than 40 deaths from Maryland to Connecticut.
Sergeant Brian Mohl Made a Call for Help Before His SUV Was Swept Away in Floodwaters Near the Pomperaug River
Sergeant Brian Mohl made a call for help while on patrol about 3:30 a.m. in Woodbury, which is located in Litchfield County in the northwestern part of Connecticut, according to The Register Citizen. During the brief conversation with dispatchers requesting help, Mohl said he was near Jacks Bridge over the Pomperaug River, the newspaper reports. His patrol SUV was found mostly submerged in the river, police said.
At a press conference, Mellekas said about Mohl’s emergency call for assistance, “His vehicle was in swift water and he knew that he was in distress. That was the last they heard of him. They pinged his phone. We sent all assets right away with the fire departments and dive teams, everyone you could imagine.” He said at daybreak searchers were able to find his vehicle in the water. When divers made it to the vehicle, Mohl was not found inside. He was then located in the river. Mellekas told reporters detectives are investigating to determine what led to Mohl’s death.
Woodbury Fire Chief Janet Murray told The Register Citizen they were called to a report of a vehicle in the river, “We didn’t know it was a state trooper at the time. We were used to the swift water in that area and we knew what resources to immediately call in to assist. We completed our task and our thoughts and prayers are with the officer.” A LifeStar medical helicopter was called to the scene to take Mohl to a hospital, but he did not survive.
Murray told the newspaper the area where Mohl was found is prone to flooding. “It is known for rapid waters and flooding in that area,” she told The Register Citizen. “The trooper may just not have known. Up until midnight, we didn’t have any flooding, and then it just took off.”
NBC Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan tweeted a chart showing the quick rise in the river in the area where Mohl died, adding, “This is a look at the river level at the location that surged 8ft in a few hours. Praying that the trooper recovers.”
In another tweet, Hanrahan said, “This hydrograph shows the rapid climb of the Weekeepeemee River in Woodbury (close to the confluence of the Nonewaug and Pomperaug River) where a State Trooper was swept away in his cruiser. The river went from 2ft to 10.25ft during the day yesterday – an 8.25ft rise.”
Mohl Was Assigned to Troop L & Was Working as the Midnight Shift Supervisor When He Was Killed
Mohl was hired by the Connecticut State Police and entered the State Police Training Academy on November 25, 1994, the department said in its press release. He graduated in June 1995 as part of the 105th Training Troop. His first assignment was at Troop A in Southbury. He was promoted to sergeant in May 2000 and was transferred to Troop L in Litchfield. He worked at Troop B in North Canaan, Troop & in Bridgeport and Troop H in Hartford before returning To Troop L in 2008.
Mohl was working as the midnight shift supervisor at the time of his death. He lived in Woodbury with his wife. Mohl’s family has not commented. Officials asked for his name to be withheld until late afternoon because his elderly parents were traveling to Connecticut from California and had not been notified of his death.
Mellekas said at a press conference, “He was one of the senior sergeants in the state police. Well respected and it’s just a tragedy.”
The Connecticut governor’s office said in a press release that the governor had directed flags to be lowered to half staff in Mohl’s honor, “Flags shall be lowered immediately and remain lowered until sunset on the date of interment, which has not yet been determined. The Office of the Governor will send out a notification when flags should be returned to full staff. Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this same duration of time.”
Local Leaders & Police Departments Around the Country Have Paid Tribute to Mohl
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said in a statement, “The passing of Sergeant Brian Mohl is a shock and a tragedy, and I am incredibly saddened by his loss. He dedicated his career and his life to public safety and protecting the lives of others. His tragic loss is a reminder of the dangers that State Troopers and first responders put themselves in every day when responding to emergencies, and they deserve our utmost respect. Sergeant Mohl served the people of Connecticut with honor and commitment, and for that he will have our eternal gratitude and respect. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and colleagues at the Connecticut State Police, and I ask the people of Connecticut to keep him in their prayers.”
Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz added, “This is just heartbreaking news, and I mourn for his family, loved ones, and the members of the Connecticut State Police. Sergeant Mohl dedicated his life and career to the great task of serving our community and state. May his bravery and courage long be remembered, and may his memory be a blessing for all who knew him.”
At a press conference Lamont said, “I was telling everyone stay safe, stay home. Let’s ride out the storm. That’s not what you do as a trooper. As a trooper you go out and you look and try to rescue others. Take care of them. And that’s what the troopers do, they take care of us everyday.”
U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes, who represents the district where Mohl served and died, said at the press conference, “We’re all devested by this news. My heartfelt condolences to the entire Connecticut State Police force. But this is just a sobering reminder, that my husband reminds me all the time, that every time an officer puts on the uniform and leaves the door, they’re putting themsleves in harm’s way. And I don’t think 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. Everytime they leave the door, there’s a possibility that they will not return. This is just a devastating blow for our community, for our police force, for the family. My heartfelt condolences to the officer, to his family.
Hayes, whose husband has been a Waterbury Police Department officer for almost 25 years, added, “The thing that he always says is, it doesn’t matter if he is conducting a homicide investigation or directing traffic. When he has that uniform on, he’s in harm’s way. When he has that uniform on, he doesn’t have that option to leave when other people do. He has to stay to make sure that everyone on scene is safe. I think that’s what we’re dealing with here. It doesn’t matter where you’re assigned or what you’re doing, when you have that uniform on you’re in harm’s way.”