An Horry County police officer died Tuesday afternoon when an SUV struck him as he worked in the roadway, authorities said.
Lance Cpl. Melton "Fox" Gore, who spent more than 20 years with the agency, was working with the environmental services team when he was hit near the intersection of S.C. 22 and S.C. 31. He was 56 years old and lived in the Little River area.
“Our hearts are breaking tonight in the wake of this tragic news,” Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner said at a media briefing. "He was a beloved member of this community and will be deeply missed.”
The crash happened just after 4 p.m. on the westbound side of S.C. 22, said Cpl. Sonny Collins with the S.C. Highway Patrol. A 2007 Mazda SUV collided with Gore.
Authorities have not said if the driver will face charges. The Highway Patrol's Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team is investigating the wreck. The MAIT unit uses high-tech equipment to reconstruct complicated crashes.
Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill said authorities believe the collision happened after Gore stopped to clear debris from the highway.
“That’s typical of Fox if you knew him," Hill said. "He cared about his community. Most people may have passed that debris by [or] swerved around it, but not Fox. He wanted to make sure nobody was hurt by it."
Gore's job involved responding to a variety of calls, including animal welfare checks and litter complaints.
During Tuesday's news conference, Hill urged drivers to be mindful of people working in the road.
“I’m pretty sure that person did not start off the day thinking they were going to kill a police officer,” Hill said.
This was the fourth Grand Strand officer to die in the last six months and the second line-of-duty death this month.
Sgt. Gordon Best of the North Myrtle Beach Police Department died on Jan. 1 when his patrol vehicle crashed into a utility pole on U.S. 17. He was responding to a call in Barefoot Resort at the time. He was 30 years old.
Officer Jacob Hancher of the Myrtle Beach Police Department was killed Oct. 3 when he was gunned down while responding to a domestic dispute. He was 23 years old.
HCPD Cpl. Michael Ambrosino died Aug. 19 following a struggle with COVID-19. He was 58.
Hill said he last spoke with Gore earlier Tuesday. Gore was known for cooking large meals for friends and the two men talked about having another gathering with the chief there.
“One heck of a cook,” Hill said. “If you ever attended one of his meals or one of his outings or one of his events, you knew that he put a lot of love into what he did. … What a wonderful guy. I will never forget him.”
Hill said he will always remember their final exchange.
"On his way out, he said, 'I can’t wait until I can cook for you again,'" the chief recalled. "Unfortunately, that won’t happen.”