In reading the news recently, I came upon the story of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson of Clive, Iowa.
In reading the news recently, I came upon the story of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson of Clive, Iowa. On Saturday, May 31, Mr. Ellingson was arrested by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Patrol for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) at the Lake. While being transported by MSHP Patrolman Cpl. Anthony Piercy, this drunken, underage young man took it upon himself to stand up, which is never a good idea in a moving boat. He either jumped or fell into the lake, causing him to drown and die. This young man was handcuffed and had on a life vest, which somehow came off during the incident.
This is a horrible tragedy, and my prayers go out to his family. That being said, we should all probably brace ourselves for the media circus that will undoubtedly begin as soon as some lawyer in Iowa convinces this young man's family that their son’s ignorance should carry a price tag in the millions, and that we, the citizens of Missouri, should be the ones to pay it.
Anyone who has lived here as long as I (42 years) knows firsthand that our Water Patrol can sometimes be a bit overzealous in its quest to write tickets. We also know that there is good reason for this. Fools from St. Louis, Kansas City, Illinois and Iowa have been coming here for years, to our lake, to display behavior and pull shenanigans that they would never try to get away with at home. Simply put, these people are idiots. Yet, they are a necessary evil in a tourist community. They have ruined my backyard and lake with their drunken behavior, foul mouths, sewage, garbage, and the like.
There is no IQ test for buying or operating a boat. Many who have never operated a marine vessel in their lives go right out and buy a 30, 40, or even 50 footer and think they're really cool. Upon learning that a boat has no brakes, suddenly they're not so cool anymore!
I can honestly say that I personally have seen water patrolmen "trolling" for drunks. They see you leave a lake bar, or heaven forbid Party Cove, and you get pulled over under the guise of "Checking for Lifejackets" or some other excuse. In reality, they just want to see if you have been drinking. If one is breaking no law, and driving responsibly, then I consider this downright harassment.
That being said, they do have a thankless job. I have seen tourists behave horribly when dealing with our patrolmen, calling them names, using foul language; I even saw a patrolman get beaned in the head with a beer bottle in Party Cove by a drunken tourist. I can understand where they might be a little "on edge" at times.
Bottom line here is that they, too, are a necessary evil at the lake.
I do not think this boy’s family deserves to get rich over this tragedy. Let us not forget he was not only drunk and boating, but underage as well. He could have just as easily killed me or one of my kids driving while intoxicated. He illegally got himself drunk, then he decided to illegally operate a boat. He then, while handcuffed mind you, made the decision to stand up in a moving vessel, and then either fell or jumped to his death.
If it can be proven he jumped, then I see no way his family has a case. The big question will be if he jumped or fell, as if him falling somehow excuses all the laws he broke and bad choices he made. They shouldn't, but in the mind of an ambulance-chasing, waste-of-space lawyer, they will.
Undoubtedly, fingers will be pointed, the patrolman may be fired, and policies will be changed to keep idiots from being idiots while in police custody. But they really shouldn't. This is a tragedy, sure, but it is a tragedy of Mr. Ellingson’s own making! Had he chosen to be respectful and obeyed our laws, he would still be alive today, period.
His family's lawyer will undoubtedly ask for a change of venue in hopes that this case is heard by some uber-liberal judge in St. Louis or K.C. that will be more likely (as liberals often are) to hold everyone except Mr. Ellingson responsible for his own death, and award millions of our tax dollars to the parents of this scofflaw. Once again, we will see bad behavior rewarded and even sympathized with, and the blame will not land on the idiot that made the bad choice, but some poor slob just doing a thankless job, thus removing the need for anyone to be held accountable for their own bad choices, when after all, the taxpayers are here to pay for it all.
I'm sorry that kid is dead, I really am, and I have no doubt this will haunt that patrolman for the rest of his days. That being said, we, the citizens of Lake of the Ozarks, didn't kill him. His own shortsightedness, disregard for the law, stupidity, and plain ‘ole bad luck did. We shouldn't be paying folks to be stupid and break the law. We do that enough in Washington, D.C. For crying out loud, let's not start that kind of rubbish here at home!
Just my opinion.