Kill switch cord not used during training accident that killed deputy

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ANDERSON, SC (WSPA) – Just a day after charges were dropped against an Army Corp of Engineers officers, in connection to the death of Anderson County Deputy Devin Hodges, we’re learning new details about what happened that day.

Hodges and another deputy went out for a training exercise on the Anderson Sheriff’s Office boat, with Army Corp of Engineers officer Joseph “Jess” Fleming on June 1st. During a pass, all three on board the boat fell into the water. Hodges’ life jacket became stuck on the propeller, drowning him.

In August, Fleming was charged with reckless homicide, a charge Fleming’s lawyer Beattie Ashmore says didn’t have a chance.

“The statute they charged him with is statute meant for wrong do-ers on a Saturday afternoon on Lake Hartwell. This was not that, this was a sanctioned law enforcement exercise,” says Ashmore.

The charges were dropped in September because of a statute that won’t allow the state to prosecute a federal officer. Ashmore is confident that there will not be a federal investigation or charges.

With the criminal case closed, we’re learning new details about what happened on June 1st. Every boat with an engine is required to have a kill switch. The kill switch is connected to the engine, and then hooked with a cord, to the driver’s life jacket. If the driver goes overboard, the kill switch is designed to cut the engine, and the propeller off.

Department of Natural Resources says a kill switch cord wasn’t used.

Through an email, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, gave us this information:

“At the time of the incident, the cord was in the dash box of the boat and, unfortunately, not connected to the operator. As with any vessel, whether it be a car, boat, or airplane, the operator has the responsibility of ensuring that the vehicle is safe for operation and if not, to make it so.”

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