Lake of the Ozarks drowning ruled accidental

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COLUMBIA - The drowning death of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson was ruled accidental by a jury after 10 minutes of deliberation at a coroner's inquest Thursday.

Ellingson was arrested on May 31 by troopers on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. During the arrest trooper Anthony Piercy handcuffed Ellingson and placed a life jacket on him for a field sobriety test.

According to the patrol's incident report Ellingson moved to the side of the boat and fell into the water. The toxicology report determined Ellingson had cocaine and alcohol in his system when he died.

Piercy testified he never received any formal training on how to use the life vest or which one to use. He said he wasn't trained on what to do if someone in custody went into the water.

"It's hard, I used to think I could handle any situation thrown at me, but now I know how vulnerable I am," Piercy said, holding back tears as described the steps he took to rescue Ellingson.

Ellingson's father travelled from Des Moines to be at the coroner's inquest today. Craig Ellingson said that he hasn't heard from the highway patrol since the death of his son. When he saw the height of the sides of the patrol boat his initial reaction was, "This is absolutely ridiculous."

He said he plans to take further action.

The Missouri Highway Patrol has changed its arrest policies on water since the death of Brandon Ellingson.

 

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