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Waiting For Answers About Son's Death
CLIVE, IA (KCCI-TV) -- A metro family is still searching for answers two months after a 20-year-old Clive man drowned at Lake of the Ozarks.
Brandon Ellingson drowned May 31 while in the custody of a Missouri State Trooper who was working water patrol, and 10 weeks later, findings from an internal investigation by the Missouri State Patrol still have not been released.
Ellingson was a standout football player at Valley High School, and he was a strong student who continued his academic success at Arizona State University.
The 20-year-old was boating with friends at Lake of the Ozarks the last weekend in May when he was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. The arresting officer was a state trooper who handcuffed Ellingson and put a life vest on him.
An initial report from the state patrol said Ellingson either jumped or fell out of the boat.
"Once the subject entered the water, at some point in time, that life vest came off and investigation is trying to determine how that happened," said Missouri State Trooper Sgt. Paul Reinsch.
The trooper jumped in and unsuccessfully tried to rescue Ellingson. His body was recovered the next day.
Two and a half months later, lawyers representing Ellingson's parents still don't know the Missouri Highway Patrol's answers to how he got into the water and how the life jacket came off.
The family's attorney Matt Boles said he knows from witnesses one answer to those questions.
"He was handcuffed in a Type 3 life vest, which is a life vest that has three buckled harnesses in the front. It was pulled over the top of his shoulders and head, rather than put on prior to the handcuffing," Boles said.
The attorney also said all open records requests have been denied or put off.
Ellingson's parents still haven't had any contact with Missouri authorities, and they have yet to receive their son's autopsy results.
The arresting officer was back on the job 10 days after the drowning, yet Ellingson's family still doesn't know the exact details in their son's death.
"If they can make the determination that he has done nothing wrong, within an eight- or nine-day period, why is it taking 11 weeks to come up with the report?" Boles said.
Boles told KCCI there was a party barge with a couple dozen people on board who saw Ellingson struggling in the water, but no one who actually saw him go out of the boat.
The Ellingson's attorneys were told Friday that the Missouri Highway Patrol internal report should come out this week or next week.
The highway patrol has also told attorneys there is no video of the incident, despite the boat having three cameras on board.