GREEN SEA, SC (WMBF) - A motorcade roughly five miles long drove from Myrtle Beach to Green Sea this afternoon to lay firefighter Chris Ray to rest.
One police officer said she counted 179 vehicles in Ray's motorcade as the firefighter was carried to his hometown to be laid to rest with his family. That included fire trucks from Conway, Horry County, Georgetown County and North Carolina, all of whom traveled 50 miles from Myrtle Beach to the small community of Green Sea.
"There's a lot of people that loved him just like we did." said Charlene Strickland, a native of Green Sea who knew Ray for several years. "He used to work at Hill's Grocery Store in Tabor City and he always carried my groceries out."
Strickland said she was overcome with emotion watching the hundreds of firefighters and police officers come to pay their respects to a man whom many said died doing what he loved.
"That was my nephew. I watched him growing up and he really enjoyed his job." said Ronnie Housand, Ray's uncle.
Strickland said Ray was well known by everyone in the community, and she wasn't surprised by the overwhelming response he received at Green Sea on Thursday.
"He was just a good guy. "You just couldn't help but love him," she said.
At the end of the burial service, the fire station performed a ceremonial last call, in which dispatch called out for Ray, receiving no response.