A House Committee that will delve into the merger of the state Water Patrol into the Highway Patrol is holding its first hearing today. Among those in attendance is Craig Ellingson, the father of 20 year-old Brandon Ellingson who died while in Water Patrol custody on the Lake of the Ozarks on May 31.

The Committee took an opening statement from the Superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol, Corporal Ron Replogle. He said due to pending litigation, no questions would be answered regarding Ellingson’s drowning, but the Patrol staff in attendance would discuss the merger.

Committee members and its chairwoman, Representative Diane Franklin, had previously told Missourinet the committee would not be investigating the Ellingson drowning, but some questions would regard training following the merger.  Some questions regarding training have already been raised.

The Water Patrol trooper that had Ellingson in custody when he drowned told a coroner’s inquest that he felt he hadn’t received enough training.

It is not clear whether Craig Ellingson will address the committee.  Chairwoman Diane Franklin previously told Missourinet she had not asked Ellingson’s family to speak to the committee.

In the video below, when the camera zooms out, Craig Ellingson (in black polo shirt) can be seen in the audience as Replogle reads his opening statement.

Earlier stories:

MO House Committee will look at water patrol training, not Ellingson drowning

Water Patrol panel not just about drowning incident at Lake of the Ozarks