CONWAY — Melton Gore, a longtime Horry County Police Department officer in the environmental services unit, died in an incident near Highways 22 and 31 on Tuesday afternoon, the HCPD announced.
According to preliminary reports from HCPD officials, Gore was removing debris from the roadway when he was struck by a vehicle. The South Carolina Highway Patrol will investigate the incident, with more information expected in the coming days.
Gore was a 23-year veteran of the HCPD, while he worked in the medical, golf course, cooking and construction fields prior to that.
"I will forever miss picking up on the phone to say ‘Fox Baby.’ We always had a good time joking around. I will miss your smile and jokes man. I really hate this. You always knew how to brighten everyone’s day. Rest In Peace Fox, we have it from here,” said Lynn Strickland, a 911 dispatcher who had answered calls from Gore for years.
Gore was also well known for his skills in the kitchen, according to HCPD Chief Joseph Hill, a topic he had discussed with Gore earlier on Tuesday.
"Officer Gore paid us a visit today in the executive suite, just to drop in to say hello. And if you knew Fox, and that’s what we call him, one heckuva cook. If you never forgot if you took in one of his meals or one of his events, you knew that he put a lot of love into what he did for Horry County, for the Horry County Police Department, and his cooking," Hill said.
"I will never forget the conversation we had today. He told me, ‘Can’t wait until I can cook for you again.’ Unfortunately, that won’t happen.”
Hill also plead with the community to be aware of their surroundings while on the roadways, asking for drivers to be "vigilant" and "be aware of the workers working in the roadways."
Hill couldn't comment on whether the driver would face any charges for striking Gore.
"I will tell you that I'm pretty sure that person didn't start the day thinking they were going to kill a police officer. Our hearts and prayers go out to that driver," Hill said.
As part of his duties, Gore would respond to animal welfare checks, which made him a popular person with the local animal community.
In October, Gore sat down with the Horry County Animal Care Center for a short social media Q&A session.
In the interview, he admitted to working “all the time” and that if he could tell the public one thing about his job, it would be “the number of incidents we deal with in a given moment or throughout the day — can be huge. It’s never slow.”
When Gore changed careers and went into law enforcement, he did it with an eye on his future.
“I wanted to be an officer because it has retirement benefits that I knew would be good for me,” Gore said.
It is the second death in two weeks among law enforcement in Horry County, with the North Myrtle Beach Police Department losing Sgt. Gordon Best on New Year's in a single-car accident near Barefoot Landing.
Richard Caines and Hannah Strong contributed to this report.