Cherokee County authorities filed charges Wednesday against a Cobb County police officer and a woman after the drowning of another Cobb officer last week.
Sheriff Roger Garrison announced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference that the officer, 37-year-old Kenneth Reda of Acworth, and the woman, 37-year-old Shelly Powell of Acworth, both face charges of obstruction and making false statements.
Divers found the body of Sgt. Thomas “Brent” Stephens last Friday, who died after he apparently fell off a moving boat on Lake Allatoona.
At first, Reda had told authorities that he and Stephens had just left the Little River restaurant and were heading back by boat to the Harbor Town Marina. Reda who was apparently driving the boat told authorities he looked back and noticed Stephens was missing.
At Wednesdays news conference, Garrison said the boat actually hit a water marker, knocking Stephens into the water.
Garrison also said Reda and Powell, who apparently are in a relationship, waited one and a half hours before reporting the accident. The sheriff added the couple tried to fix the damaged boat before contacting authorities.
Authorities had not revealed that another person besides the two officers was on the boat until Wednesday’s news conference.
Both Powell and Reda were booked at the Cherokee County Jail late Wednesday afternoon. Reda was released after posting an $11,000 bond Wednesday night. Powell was also bonded out of jail Wednesday.
CBS Atlanta New obtained 911 tapes from the Thursday incident. Reda told a 911 dispatcher, “I turned around and started looking for him right away. I found his flip flops but I have not found him.”
Dispatcher said, “Ok, so about 5 minutes ago?”
Reda said, “Uh, about 10 minutes ago.”
Garrison said Reda lied to investigators and dispatchers about who was on the boat when the accident happened.
Dispatcher said, “Where is your wife”
Reda said, “At home.”
Dispatcher said, “Ok so she’s not on the boat with you?”
Reda said, “No it was just me and him on the boat.”
Multiple police agencies were headquartered at the Harbor Town Marina off Galts Ferry Road in Acworth as they searched Lake Allatoona on Friday for a Cobb County police officer who fell off a boat Thursday night.
Cherokee County Police Departmen The body of Cobb County police Sgt. Thomas “Brent” Stephens of Paulding County was found Friday afternoon in Lake Allatoona. He was 35.
A dive team found the body of Sgt. Thomas “Brent” Stephens at about 1:30 p.m., officials at the scene said at a 3:30 p.m. press conference. Cobb County police confirmed that Stephens had been employed with the force since 1996.
The body was taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab to determine the cause of death, Cherokee Sheriff’s Capt. Joe Perkins said.
Multiple police agencies were searching Lake Allatoona for Stephens, who fell off a boat Thursday night.
Lt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee sheriff’s department said two men were boating from a restaurant near Little River Marina back to Harbor Town Marina when the driver — also a Cobb police officer — noticed his friend was missing. The friend searched the area before calling 911, Baker said.
The search started immediately early Friday morning with State Patrol helicopters flying overhead and boats in the water. At daylight, divers from Forsyth, Hall, Cobb and Cherokee counties arrived at the scene. Searchers also were using sonar and looking along the banks in case Stephens swam ashore.
Department of Natural Resources spokesman Cpl. James Keener said the 911 call came at 10:45 p.m.
“Unfortunately we have several drownings a year at Lake Allatoona,” Perkins said. “The cooperation of all of the agencies involved was fantastic. The gentleman that was here was a police officer, and the law enforcement community really came out to support everybody that was doing the search.”
Stephens’ death is the second drowning at Lake Allatoona in a week. Raul Cruz Martinez, 23, was swimming when friends last week when he suddenly went under the water, officials said. Martinez, of Acworth, was the first drowning of the year at Lake Allatoona, according to the DNR.
Harbor Town Marina is off Galts Ferry Road.
Stephens was a longtime SWAT team member and was promoted to sergeant in December, Officer Joseph Hernandez said.
Stephens is married with two small children, a neighbor, Shelley Pruitt, told the AJC Friday afternoon. Friends and family gathered at the Stephens’ home, in the Canterbury Lane neighborhood, she said.
“Brent was an excellent police officer, and he was not only an asset to the department, but also to the citizens and county that he served,” said George Hatfield, chief of Cobb County police, in a statement. “Brent was a close friend to many officers in this department, and he will be sorely missed.”