The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
25 state troopers have died on duty
Twenty five members of the Connecticut State Police force have died in the line of duty since the agency’s founding nearly a century ago.
On Thursday, Sgt. Brian Mohl became the latest
officer killed, after his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters in Woodbury. The veteran officer was found following a massive multi-agency search, but was pronounced dead after being flown to Yale New Haven Hospital.
State police described Mohl as a well-respected trooper with 26 years on the force.
His death came 11 years to the day after another trooper, Kenneth Hall, was struck and killed on Interstate 91 in Enfield in 2010.
Two dozen state police deaths preceded Mohl’s dating back to the agency’s origins in 1903 to enforce prohibition, vice and labor laws.
Thirteen officers were killed by motor vehicles, both through crashes or being struck, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that tracks the deaths of law enforcement officers. Three others died by “vehicular assault.”
Four officers were killed by gunfire, while the two recent line-of-duty deaths were officers who died from illness associated with their response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Here are the Connecticut troopers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Sgt. Brian Mohl — Sept. 2, 2021
State police Sgt. Brian Mohl was killed Sept. 2, after his car was swept away by the flooding waters of the Pomperaug River in Woodbury near Jacks Bridge Road during Ida.
Mohl alerted first responders that he was in trouble around 3:30 a.m. that morning. Multiple agencies, including the Coast Guard and several helicopters, responded and assisted in the search.
Mohl was found and airlifted to Yale New Haven Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
His age is listed as 50 on the Officer Down memorial page. Mohl was a veteran officer of 26 years and was well-respected, according to state police. He was assigned to Troop L in Litchfield.
“Every line-of-duty death is heartbreaking and the loss of Sgt. Mohl is no different,” Col. Stavros Mellekas, commanding officer of the state police, said in a statement. “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.”
Gov. Ned Lamont ordered flags flown at half mast.
“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,” Lamont said. “Sgt.
Mohl served the people of Connecticut with honor and commitment, and for that he will have our eternal gratitude and respect.”
Trooper First Class Eugene Kenneth Baron Jr. — May 25, 2020
Trooper First Class Gene Baron died at the age of 56 from cancer that was linked to his response in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York.
Alongside other members of the state police force, Baron went to ground zero to help search for survivors following the attacks. He also acted as liaison for Connecticut families whose loved ones were missing.
“That doesn’t surprise me at all that he would be there,” Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti said at the time. “His father worked with my father on the Ansonia police before he joined the state police. Gene followed his father there.”
Trooper First Class Walter Greene Jr. — May 31, 2018
Norwalk resident Walter Greene was also among the state police who responded to the World Trade Center following the Sept. 11 attacks. State police said he developed Stage 4 cancer from exposure to toxins at the site. He died at the age of 51.
The Marine Corps veteran was remembered during a funeral attended by hundreds for his laugh, love of the New England Patriots and commitment to service.
“This is the passing of a great man and a great trooper,” then Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at the ceremony. “Walter quite clearly would go beyond any service requirement.”
A last call with Greene’s badge number went out over police radios statewide. “Your brothers and sisters will take the watch from here,” the call said.
Trooper First Class Kevin Michael Miller — March 29, 2018
Trooper First Class Kevin Miller had just passed 19 years of service with the Connecticut State Police when he was killed in a motor vehicle crash in Tolland. He was 49, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
“His patrol car collided with the back of a tractortrailer that was traveling slower than other traffic in the right lane of the interstate,” the page states.
The veteran officer had served in Troop C in Tolland, as well as Troop K in Colchester and Troop E in Montville. He graduated from the state police academy on March 19, 1999.
“We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the tragic loss of Trooper First Class Miller — a man who dedicated his life to serving the people of Connecticut,” Malloy said at the time.
Trooper First Class Kenneth Ray Hall — Sept. 2, 2010
A Marine Corps sniper who served in Vietnam, Trooper First Class Kenneth Hall was killed during a motor vehicle stop on Interstate 91 in Enfield. During the stop, a pickup truck careened from the left lane over to where Hall was pulled over on the right shoulder, smashing into his cruiser. The driver was later sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Hall was an avid hunter and competitive powerlifter known as “Suntan Superman,” according to his obituary in the Hartford Courant. He was 57.
Thousands of police from as far as California and Louisiana gathered in Hartford for Hall’s funeral.
“He was not only a great friend, but he was an officer you would want by your side in any situation,” then-governor M. Jodi Rell said at his service. “I can't think of a better honor than that.”
Auxiliary Trooper Phillip A. Mingione — May 2, 1994
Auxiliary Trooper Phillip Mingione was killed after a motorist lost control of her vehicle on Interstate 91 in North Haven. He was 47.
Mingione was outside his vehicle, which was parked on the median, when he was struck and killed by the car.
The Hartford Courant reported at the time that a hit-and-run driver struck the woman’s car, causing her to veer off the road and strike Mingione.
Mingione was serving as an auxiliary trooper, a position that assisted state police in traffic control and removing disabled vehicles.
Auxiliary Trooper Edward W. Truelove — Nov. 13, 1992
Auxiliary Trooper Edward W. Truelove was killed while helping a disabled driver on Interstate 84 in Cheshire, according to state police. He was 73.
A tractor trailer truck collided with Truelove’s cruiser while he was stopped to help a motorist in the truck-climbing lane. The truck driver told police he was likely daydreaming when he rounded the curve.
Truelove had told the driver of the disabled car to get over to the opposite side of the guardrail shortly before the crash.
“If not for his concern about the occupants of the broken down car and his orders to move off the roadway, they too might have died,” state police said.
Trooper Russell A. Bagshaw — June 5, 1991
Trooper Russell Bagshaw was only 28 years old when he interrupted the burglary of a gun store at the Land and Sea Sports Center in North Windham. The fouryear veteran of the state police force had arrived to perform a routine security check, the Norwich Bulletin reported.
One of the two brothers involved in the burglary shot at Bagshaw’s cruiser. A bullet passed through a gap in the officer’s vest, killing him.
The two brothers were captured soon after the shooting. Terry Johnson, the brother who fired the shot that killed Bagshaw, was initially sentenced to death. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison because the nature of the shooting did not meet the “heinous” nature required for the death penalty at the time, the Bulletin reported.
Trooper Jorge A. Agosto — November 22, 1989
It was the day before Thanksgiving when Trooper Jorge Agosto was struck and killed by a motorist on I-95 in Greenwich.
The 27year-old had parked his cruiser behind another state trooper’s patrol car to help with a motor vehicle stop. As Agosto was walking on the highway, another driver struck him from behind.
The driver of the car that killed Agosto, a stockbroker from New York City, was later charged with manslaughter. It was later revealed the driver had a diabetic seizure at the time of the accident.
Agosto had served with the Connecticut State Police for two years at the time of the accident. He had been assigned to Troop L in Litchfield.
Trooper James H. Savage — Jan. 22, 1986
Trooper James Savage was on his way home when he stopped to help a motorist on Route 8 in Watertown.
As he was walking up to the other car, another driver struck him from behind, killing him. He was 42.
According to state police, the driver of the car was a salesman who had looked down at some paperwork on the passenger seat in his car. This caused the car to drift to the shoulder as the road curved, causing the car to strike the trooper.
Savage was only 15 minutes from his home when the accident occurred, according to state police.
Lt. Thomas F. Carney — Dec. 6, 1982
Lt. Thomas Carney was on his way to Troop L in Litchfield when he was struck and killed by a tractor trailer during a traffic stop. The accident occurred on Interstate 84 in Southbury, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The 40-year-old officer’s funeral in Newtown was among the largest the town had ever seen, his son told the Newtown Bee.
A section of I-84 is named in honor of Carney.
Trooper Carl P. Moller — Feb. 13, 1976
Trooper Carl Moller was struck and killed by a driver in a dump truck while the trooper was assisting a driver on I-84 in West Hartford, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The 31-year-old had served in the Connecticut State Police for six years. The accident also killed the driver of the car that Moller had stopped to help.
The driver of the truck fled, but later turned himself in on two charges of negligent homicide. He was convicted of two counts of misconduct with a motor vehicle and sentenced to two years probation, the memorial page said.
Trooper Joseph M. Stoba Jr. — Aug. 6, 1962
Trooper Joseph Stoba was responding to a domestic dispute at a home in Portland when he was shot and killed, according to state police. He was 34.
Stoba had been transporting a prisoner to jail in his cruiser when he was directed to the home. The man who lived at the home “had a history of drunken domestic incidents,” state police said.
The man met Stoba on the porch and agreed to go with him to sober up.
“Trooper Stoba let the man go back into his house for a sweater, but when he returned, he was armed with a rifle. Before Trooper Stoba could react, the man fatally shot him,” state police said.
The prisoner in Stoba’s car called police on the radio to let them know the trooper had been shot, the Hartford Courant reported.
A section of Route 71 in Meriden was named in Stoba’s honor, the newspaper reported.
Trooper James W. Lambert — Oct. 29, 1960
Trooper James Lambert was killed at the age of 26 when he was struck by a drunk driver during a traffic stop in Bethel, according to state police.
He had been with the state police for only seven months, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
“His life and career were cut short, but his brief presence within the Connecticut State Police left its mark,” the agency said.
The state police Trooper James W. Lambert Award is presented to anyone under the age of 21 who “exhibited exceptional courage and extraordinary decision making,” the agency said.
Trooper Ernest J. Morse — Feb. 13, 1953
The driver of a stolen car shot Trooper Ernest Morse during a traffic stop on the Merritt Parkway in Trumbull, striking the officer in the abdomen.
A car full of sailors from the Groton submarine base found the 31-year-old trooper and came to his aid.
Morse whispered portions of a license plate number to the sailors and directed them to use his radio to call for help.
Morse was taken to Bridgeport Hospital, but died less than an hour later.
The man who shot Morse was captured and convicted of the homicide. He was executed in 1955, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Morse, a U.S. Army veteran, had served in the state police for six years, the website notes.
A section of Nichols Avenue in Trumbull was named in his honor, but the commemorative sign was later moved to the town border with Stratford.
Lt. Frank A. Starkel — July 19, 1948
Lt. Frank Starkel was killed after he was struck in the head by a flying piece of rock in Newington. He was 45.
An explosion at the Newington quarry had flung the piece of debris more than half a mile, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The 23-year-veteran of the state police had also served as state fire marshal. He was survived by his wife, his mother and six siblings.
Lt. Kenneth W. Stevens — June 6, 1944
Lt. Kenneth Stevens died from a heart attack following a boating accident on the Connecticut River near Lyme.
Stevens and other officers were helping the Navy with port security when his boat collided with a pylon, the Officer Down Memorial Page reported.
The five men in the boat, including Stevens, were thrown into the water. While they swam to shore, Stevens suffered a fatal heart attack. His body was later recovered from the water.
Trooper Edward P. Jesmonth — July 20, 1943
Trooper Edward Jesmonth died after the car he was driving slid out on a wet road in East Hampton, colliding with a tree. He was 35.
Jesmonth and two other state police employees in the car had been headed to a fire at a boatyard in Portland, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Jesmonth had been with the agency for two years.
Sgt. Charles F. Hill — Nov. 6, 1941
Sgt. Charles Hill died after being struck by two cars on Route 44 in North Canaan.
The 37-year-old officer was conducting a traffic stop when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver, the Officer Down Memorial Page said. While he was in the roadway, a second driver ran him over.
Both drivers were later charged and convicted, but it could not be determined who caused Hill’s death.
Trooper Leonard H. Watson — Oct. 22, 1932
Trooper Leonard Watson died after his motorcycle slid on a wet rail crossing in Cheshire, sending the 35-year-old officer into an oncoming truck.
Watson had been headed to New Haven for crowd control at a Yale University