A Monday afternoon press conference to address the tragic death of a Conway firefighter was full of emotion, though it lasted only a few minutes.
City of Conway Fire Chief Le Hendrick began the press conference addressing the unexpected death of Conway firefighter Christopher Gene Ray as a “tragic accident.”
“We are deeply saddened over the loss of one of our own last night, firefighter Christopher Ray,” Hendrick stated. “He was a six year veteran of the City of Conway Fire Department and he was also a volunteer with Horry County Fire Rescue with seven years of experience.”
Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard confirms Christopher Gene Ray of Green Sea died on the scene by after being struck by a fire engine. Cpl. Sonny Collins of the South Carolina Highway Patrol says Ray had been riding on a Conway fire engine when he fell off and was struck as the fire truck reversed over him.
Preliminary autopsy results revealed multiple traumatic injuries from being struck by the fire engine, according to Horry County Deputy Coroner Tony Hendrick.
“Firefighter Ray was a firefighter, husband, son and friend,” adds Hendrick. “We ask that you respect the family’s request for privacy at this time. Funeral arrangements are pending, and we will notify the public once they have been confirmed by the family.”
Ray has been working with the City of Conway since 2010. The South Carolina Highway Patrol’s MAIT is investigating the incident.
Battalion Chief Brian Van Aernem with Horry County Fire Rescue says the home on 1009 Hickory Circle is a total loss.
Van Aernem says Ray was injured in the early stages of the fire. News13’s Lucas Lalonde was on scene immediately after the incident and says firefighters were embracing each other and visibly upset.
Fire protection services will continue as normal for all communities within Conway as several different fire departments from surrounding areas have volunteered to cover emergency calls for the area while Conway firefighters have time to grieve.
Visitation and funeral services have been set for Chris Ray. Chief Hendrick confirms the dates and times for visitation, funeral and burial below:
- Visitation: Wednesday, March 23 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Goldfinch Conway Chapel, 608 Beaty Street
- Funeral: Thursday, March 24 at 11 a.m. at Beach Church, 557 George Bishop Parkway, Myrtle Beach
- Burial: Immediately following funeral service in the Green Sea Community (address is unknown at this time)
Conway Mayor Barbara Jo Blain-Bellamy also addressed the media during the press conference and noted that neighbors throughout the City of Conway have shown an overwhelming amount of support.
“This is a very sad day in the City of Conway, but because we are a family we will get through this together,” Bellamy said. “We’ve got grief counselors on hand and the community has given a tremendous outpouring of love.”
No questions were taken during the brief address, and Mayor Bellamy asked for continued support from community members.
“Please keep this family in your prayers, and the City of Conway as we heal through this process,” Bellamy urged.