MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - In the first 12 days of 2021, the Grand Strand and Pee Dee lost three law enforcement officers in the line of duty.
The first death came on New Year’s Day when Sgt. Gordon Best with the North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety lost control of his patrol car on the wet roadways of U.S. 17 and crashed into a utility pole. He died on scene.
The second death came just five days later when Deputy Jonathan Price with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office also died in a car accident. Another person was killed in the same crash.
The third death came Jan. 12 when LCpl. Melton Gore of the Horry County Police Department was hit by a car while he was cleaning debris on the side of Highway 22.
The three deaths in such a short timeframe are weighing on the members of the law enforcement community in the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee.
“It’s a very sad time in our profession to ever lose anybody,” said KC Canterbury, vice president of the South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police. “Three times this quick is very rough. Obviously, we’re still grieving the previous two that just happened. It’s not an easy process.”
Canterbury said it doesn’t matter where a law enforcement officer dies, there’s always a connection.
“In this profession, we might not all work for the same department, but we’re all a family as far as law enforcement is concerned,” he said.
In the wake of the first two deaths, community members have stepped up.
Fundraisers have helped family members, and people who never even knew the officers lined streets to respect the processions that transported their bodies.
If there’s anything that lifts the spirits of the men and women in blue during times of grief, it’s that community support.
“I hear that officers on the street are hearing the condolences every day, the thanks for what they do, the citizens showing their respect to the officers,” Canterbury said. “It’s well appreciated to know that the citizens do care about us.”