The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Family: ‘He was doing a job he loved’
Trooper Brian Mohl died after his car was caught in floodwaters last week
The death of state police Sgt. Brian Mohl weighs heavy on his family, but they made clear Sunday he died doing something he loved.
Mohl, a 26-year veteran of the state police, died amid fast-rising water from Ida on Thursday in Woodbury. He was on the job as part of the midnight shift at Troop L.
“Brian loved being a state trooper. He proudly served with the Connecticut State Police for over 26 years and those that worked with him said he
always had a way of making you feel as though you were part of the team and that he truly cared about them,” Mohl’s family said in a statement released Sunday.
A senior sergeant, Mohl was remembered for his dedication both to law enforcement and to his family.
Sgt. Corey Craft, who serves in Troop H, came to know Mohl when the two were young troopers working the midnight shifts at Troop A in Southbury. And they two became fast friends.
“We were like the odd couple, totally different people and we just clicked for whatever reason. We had an amazing friendship,” Craft said Sunday in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media.
Craft said Mohl was generous, smart, humble, but also witty and sarcastic.
Though Craft came on as a trooper just before Mohl, the two took the sergeant’s exam at the same time. Mohl scored a few points higher and was promoted first. From there, Craft said Mohl joked for years that he was more senior.
Even though the two troopers were among the most senior sergeants in the state police, they gravitated toward the often less popular midnight shift.
“There’s something to be said for people who will go out overnight in the worst conditions,” Craft said.
Mohl was working his typical midnight shift when he called in to Troop L around 3:30 a.m. Thursday, reporting he was in fast-rising water near Jacks Bridge Roaf in Woodbury.
State police officials said they immediately deployed all assets that could and pinged the trooper’s phone, but they didn’t find his police cruiser until daybreak when floodwaters started to recede. Even then, it was still mostly submerged, they said.
Authorities were able to find Mohl in the river about an hour later, officials said. They quickly attempted life-saving measure before Mohl was flown by LifeStar helicopter to YaleNew Haven Hospital.
Officials said he was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.
“He’s out on the road at 3 o’clock in the morning checking places, he’s just a great guy. He loved the community of Woodbury, he loved the peoJames ple of Woodbury, he loved his home in Woodbury,” Craft said.
Mohl’s death marked the 25th line of duty death of a state trooper since the force was created more than a century ago.
“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,” state police Col. Stavros Mellekas said in announcing Mohl’s death last week.
In a massive state police organization, with around 1,000 troopers, not many were as well known as Mohl, who worked in several troops during his long career.
From the top brass down to troopers in training, “all you’ve got to do is say the last name Mohl and someone’s going to say something positive about him,” Craft said.
Mohl was also known to throw a big barbecue every summer for family and friends, and he’d invite everyone in the state police.
“He would do this every year. He just wanted people to bring their families, come have a great day and get home safe. Never asked for anything,” Craft said.
Though he was a hardworking trooper, his commitment to his family was unwavering.
“Even though Brian was committed to his work, he always found a way to put his family life first. He never lost sight of that. If he wasn’t at work, he was spending time with us. Brian’s love for his family was larger than life. He had a special way about him with his kindness, humor and warmth,” his family said in the statement.
In a demanding profession, with tough shifts and long hours, Mohl made it work. He worked hard as a trooper, but was a dedicated to his wife, stepchildren and son, Craft said.
“This guy, he found a way to do it all right. He’s got a great family, he’s got great balance, he works his butt off. He’s got a phenomenal relationship with his wife and kids. … This guy had everything in line and squared away, and did it the right way,” Craft said.
Mohl’s death was met with grief from among the tight-knit law enforcement community. As Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Rovella, a longtime fixture in Connecticut law enforcement, made the announcement of Mohl’s death, departments across the state posted tributes for the fallen trooper.
Across the region, law enforcement agencies shared the state police emblem with a black line across the center — it read Mohl’s badge number in white letters.
Mohl’s death came amid the worst of Ida, a powerful storm that first hit Louisana as a Category 4 hurricane. Heavy rains quickly flooded rivers and roads late Wednesday into early Thursday.
“I was telling everybody ‘stay safe, stay home, let’s ride out this storm.’ That’s not what you do as a trooper,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “As a trooper, you go out and you look and you try to rescue others — take care of them.”
A wake and funeral for Mohl has been planned this week at Xfinity Theatre in Hartford. It is expected to draw law enforcement from across New England, New York and elsewhere. Craft said Mohl has one brother who is a major and another that is a sergeant in the New York State Police.
“Seeing the outpouring of prayers and support from the Connecticut State Police, the New York State Police, the law enforcement community and the community as a whole has deeply touched our hearts. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for all of your compassion,” Mohl’s family said.
Mohl entered the state police training academy in 1994 and graduated the following year. He joined Troop A in Southbury. He served as a sergeant at Troop B in North Canaan, Troop G in Bridgeport and Troop H, before he was assigned to Troop L in 2008.
Mohl and Craft, both long eligible to retire, had been talking about retirement for a long time. Craft said Mohl had been considering plans in the coming months.
“He said, ‘Well, you know what, we’ve got to go pretty soon here, but I really love what I do. It’s going to be so hard for me,’” Craft recalled.
Mohl’s death came 11 years to the day after Trooper Kenneth Hall was killed when he was struck by a passing driver while conducting traffic enforcement on Interstate 91 in Enfield.
“[Mohl] was a loving son, brother, husband, father, and friend and to say he will be missed is just not enough,” his family said.