LORIS — Horry County law enforcement and area community members ate barbecue lunches and dinners Friday to benefit the family of a sheriff deputy, who has been hospitalized with severe smoke inhalation after working several nights guarding the Windsor Green fire site in Carolina Forest.
“Unfortunately, it was the perfect storm,” Horry County Sheriff Sgt. Jeff Benton said of Deputy Tim Causey, who is in a medically induced coma while being treated at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Benton said Causey began feeling sick while working to keep property secure at burn site.
Causey, a 25-year law enforcement veteran, has worked about two years for the Horry County Sheriff’s Office in the warrant division, Benton said.
Horry County’s emergency officials and first-responders along with Causey’s friends, family and members of the community purchased the barbeque plates Friday during a benefit at Lake Swamp Baptist Church located along S.C. 917 near S.C. 410. Funds raised will help Causey’s family with medical and travel expenses.
“It’s overwhelming,” Donna Causey, Tim Causey’s wife, said Friday afternoon sitting outside the church’s fellowship hall where people dined on the barbeque and large smokers continued to cook meat for dinners. “The people who have shown up, it’s just unreal.”
“It’s hard because he never gets sick,” Donna Causey said.
Tim Causey spent the night of March 16, hours after the fire, patrolling the property where fire destroyed 26 condominium buildings and displaced 190 people in the Carolina Forest area, Benton said. Causey worked about three nights doing security at the property and began to feel sick, but told Benton and others it was likely sinus issues.
Donna Causey convinced Tim Causey to go to a doctor, who recognized he was having respiratory issues and sent him to McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence. Doctors in Florence diagnosed Tim Causey as having smoke inhalation and acute respiratory failure.
“When he arrived at McLeod, he had 60 percent oxygen in his blood,” Benton said, “and that was four or five days later.”
But Tim Causey’s condition did not improve, so McLeod doctors had a medical helicopter take him to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and he remains there in a medically induced coma and on a respirator.
MUSC doctors also diagnosed Causey with the H1N1 virus, a strain of the influenza virus often called swine flu, which created a “perfect storm” of medical issues for Causey, Benton said.
“This is a community effort and we’re here supporting them. It’s taken a huge chunk out of their finances and this is a way to help,” Benton said. Causey “never wants to give up his work. He would never want someone to do his work. He’s there to serve.”
Causey is listed as being in critical, but stable condition at MUSC.
“Here’s a guy working, serving the community who had no idea that night we were out there working that his life could be in danger later,” Benton said.
Donna Causey has been balancing her time between being at her husband’s bedside in Charleston and caring for their two daughters, Sommer and Taylor, who is a high school senior.
“Before they put him on the ventilator, he told Sommer to make sure Taylor got to her prom,” said Donna Causey, her voice weakened momentarily by the sight of her father getting emotional while talking to someone about his son-in-law across the room. “We’re trying to keep [Taylor Causey’s] life normal because it’s her senior year and she has senior night and graduation coming up.”
“I just want to thank them and tell them to continue to pray everyday,” Donna Causey said of those who purchased dinners and have helped her family. “He needs a lot of prayer. I know God is a healer and I know with prayer and support he will be fine.”
To make a donation to help Tim Causey’s family with medical and travel expenses send a check or money order to: 3746 Mt. Olive Church Road, Nichols, SC 29581
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.