Conway grieves fallen firefighter

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The City of Conway and Conway Fire Department held a news conference Monday concerning the death of firefighter Chris Ray.

Preliminary autopsy results confirm Ray died Sunday after the truck on which he rode backed over him while responding to a house fire on Hickory Circle.

Conway Fire Chief, Le Hendrick, and the city’s Mayor, Barbara Blain-Bellamy kept their remarks brief.

They made sure the public knew fire service would remain fully operational and thanked local departments who will be assisting the city in its time of need.

“During this time, if you have a call you may see a different fire truck responding, we are also thankful for the assistance from the firefighter assistance and support team for being on hand to provide grief counseling to our fire department personnel,” said Chief Hendrick.

The accident is being investigated by the South Carolina Highway Patrol and SLED, who had no comment at this time.

Horry County Fire Rescue’s arson division is looking into the cause of the house fire that crews were responding to when Ray was struck and killed.

“This is a very sad day in the city of Conway but because we are family we will get through this together,” said Mayor Blain-Bellamy.

Chief Hendrick commented on Ray’s experience both on Conway’s department and as a volunteer for HCFR.

“Firefighter Ray was a husband, father, son and friend,” said Hendrick.

Highway Patrol says Ray fell off the Conway city fire truck he was riding in and was then struck, no further details have been released.

“Please keep this family and the city of Conway in your prayers as we heal through this process,” said Blain-Bellamy.

Part of that process is grief counselors working with the firefighter assistance and support program.

“To know that we can find peace in a time of turmoil, its important for us to know that,” said Jay Ortiz, the chaplain for the North Myrtle Beach public safety department.

Ortiz came to Conway to offer his assistance, “a brotherhood is a brotherhood. It doesn’t matter if it’s another state.”

He said its an honor to lead people in prayer in their time of need.

“Pray with them, talk with them, support them, hopefully give them strength and some peace,” said Ortiz.

Firefighters were seen gathered for prayer on the street Sunday, Ortiz said that can be an important part of healing, regardless of faith.

“We need it ,we want it. It’s a big part of fire service and the police,” said Ortiz.

Visitation for Ray will be Wednesday, March 23rd from 4PM until 7PM at Goldfinch Conway Chapel – 608 Beaty Street.

Ray’s funeral will be Thursday, March 24th at 11AM at Beach Church – 557 George Bishop Parkway, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579.

Burial will be immediately following in the Green Sea Community (address is unknown at this time).

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