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Man charged in drowning death of teen in Washington County

By WCTI Staff
Published On: Jun 19 2013 10:59:31 PM CDT
Updated On: Feb 07 2014 05:30:20 PM CST
PLYMOUTH, WASHINGTON COUNTY -

Deputies have charged a suspect with manslaughter in the drowning death of a teen in Washington County last year.

Michael Ashley Hodges (pictured left) was arrested on Thursday and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice in the death of Hashawn Tyrell Cherry, a.k.a. Shawn Moore, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Cherry (pictured right), of Washington, was swimming with three young men off of a small boat in a pond near Long Ridge Road in Plymouth on June 19, 2013, deputies said. But his friends later called 911 to report that Cherry was drowning.

Deputies and police arrived at the scene but were unable to rescue Cherry, investigators said. Members of the Sydney Dive Team recovered the victim's body later that evening.

Cherry was 19 years old when he died.

"It's a true relief to know that the family's gonna have some closure in this, possibly in the near future," said Lt. Investigator Kevin Sawyer, of the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office did not explain exactly why Hodges has been charged or how he was involved in Cherry's death. Hodges was being held in the Washington County Detention Center under a $20,000 secured bond. The District Attorney's Office is working to schedule a court date.

Additional arrests are pending, the Sheriff's Office stated.

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Deputies have identified the victim who apparently drowned in a Washington County pond, making him the fourth teen to drown in Eastern Carolina in the past month.

According to Lt. Kevin Sawyer of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, 19-year-old Hashawn T. Cherry, a.k.a. Shawn Moore, of Washington, was swimming with three young men off of a small boat, near 5948 Long Ridge Road in Plymouth. But at about 5:39 p.m. Wednesday, Cherry's friends called 911, reporting that the victim was drowning.

"I came over to the water. and the other guys were out here in the boat and they were out of breath from struggling with Shawn," Brian Sawyer, who lives at the property where Cherry drowned, said.

Sawyer said Cherry was a friend of his nephew.

"When I came out there was no sign of him," Sawyer said. "He was already gone."

Deputies and police arrived at the scene but were unable to rescue Cherry, Lt. Sawyer said. Members of the Sydney Dive Team recovered the victim's body at about 7:17 p.m.

It appeared that Cherry had drowned, but the Medical Examiner's office will conduct a routine exam to determine the exact cause of death, Lt. Sawyer said.

Cherry's apparent drowning is the fourth in Eastern Carolina in the past month. On June 13, Marcel Albu, 18, a foreign exchange student, drowned in Emerald Isle, police said.

On June 1, ECU student Braxton Horton, 19, was swept away by a rip current in Pine Knoll Shores, authorities said. His body was found 26 hours later.

On May 23, Southwest High School football star Shak Pershey drowned while swimming with friends in North Topsail Beach.