ANDERSON, S.C. – Friends, colleagues and the wife of a sheriff's deputy killed in a boating accident in South Carolina remembered him as someone who wanted to make the world better instead of just making arrests.
Anderson County deputy Devin Hodges was laid to rest Tuesday in a uniform ironed by the boss who hired him months ago. Hundreds of officers and others came to the Anderson Civic Center to pay their final respects.
Hodges, 30, died Thursday in a boat accident during a training exercise on Lake Hartwell. Sheriff Chad McBride has just assigned the deputy to Anderson County's marine patrol and said the freshly pressed uniform was the least he could do for an officer who showed such promise and dedication.
"Devin, thank you for believing in my vision. You could have worked anywhere you wanted to," McBride said.
Hodges also worked for the Laurens County Sheriff's Office and the Lander University police. At every stop, co-workers who became friends remembered a big man who left every shift hollering "Merry Christmas!" to them no matter what time of year.
"He was not a man just concerned about making arrests. He was a man who believed in making a difference," Lander University Police Capt. Greg Allen said.
Hodges left behind a wife and four children. Krystal Hodges released a taped statement Monday saying her husband was a dedicated father thrilled to be able to work on the lake he loved so much.
He "made a difference in lives — tried to talk every criminal into making better decisions for the sake of others in their lives," she said.
Tuesday's funeral began with a horse drawn carriage bearing Hodges' casket from the funeral home to the civic center with dozens of police cars in a procession. Hodges unpolished boots lay near his flag-draped coffin.
Hodges, another deputy and an official from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were training Thursday on Lake Hartwell when all three were thrown from a boat. Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore says Hodges drowned when his lifejacket got caught on a propeller, pinning him underwater.
Investigators initially thought the boat circled back and hit Hodges, but officials said he didn't suffer significant injuries from the propeller. The other officers were not seriously injured.
Authorities haven't figured out why the men were thrown from the boat.