An Army Corps of Engineers employee has been charged in the death of Devin Hodges, an Anderson County Sheriff's Office deputy who was mortally wounded June 1 during a training exercise on Lake Hartwell.
Joseph Jess Fleming, 37, of Pendleton was arrested Friday and charged with reckless homicide by boat, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and records from the Anderson County Detention Center.
Fleming was later released from jail on a $25,000 personal-recognizance bond, records show.
Fleming, a park ranger on Lake Hartwell, was operating the boat Hodges was thrown from, said Robert McCullough, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.
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Hodges, 30, who did both road patrol and marine patrol, was training on the lake with other Anderson County deputies and representatives of the Corps of Engineers when he, Fleming and another deputy were ejected from a boat at Singing Pines Recreation Area in Starr.
McCullough said Friday that Fleming "did a maneuver" before everyone was ejected from the boat, but he declined to go into further detail, citing the pending criminal case.
Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said Hodges' life jacket became entangled in the boat propeller. He went underwater and was unable to come up for air, Shore said. Hodges was pronounced dead about an hour later at AnMed Health Medical Center.
Fleming and the other sheriff's deputy on the boat were not physically harmed, but were treated for shock.
The state Department of Natural Resources investigated the case because Hodges' fatal injury occurred on the water.
Billy Birdwell, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the agency is "monitoring the legal action" against Fleming. Birdwell said Fleming remains a Corps of Engineers employee "in good standing."
Birdwell referred additional questions to Fleming's attorney, Beattie Ashmore.
Attempts to reach Ashmore and Fleming were unsuccessful Friday night.
The Sheriff's Office released a prepared statement Friday night after charges were announced.
"As we are still in mourning over the loss of Master Deputy Devin Hodges, our thoughts and prayers remain with his family and all those involved in this tragic accident.
"The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office appreciates a long-standing relationship with both the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and will continue to work together with each agency as we serve the citizens of Anderson County."
Hundreds of mourners came to the Civic Center of Anderson for Hodges' funeral and were part of a 39-mile funeral procession to Greenwood County, where he was laid to rest. Hodges left behind a wife, Krystal, and four young children, including two who have special needs.
Hodges came to work at the Anderson County Sheriff's Office in January.
Hodges worked for Lander University Public Safety, Abbeville County Sheriff's Office, Laurens County Sheriff's Office and the Calhoun Falls Police Department before returning to Anderson County, where he had worked before as a young 911 dispatcher.
After his death, Hodges was promoted to master deputy.