Several patrons and store owners in Loris stepped outside Thursday to watch as 30 bicyclists escorted by police and fire vehicles rolled through the city’s streets to the Loris Public Safety Building.
The Carolina Brotherhood Bike Ride is a group of firefighters and police officers who ride bikes to raise awareness for those killed in the line of duty. This year that number totaled 10 in North Carolina and South Carolina.
They are riding through Horry County in honor of Horry County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Causey and Loris Fire Department Assistant Chief Rodney Hardee. Causey died of complications of smoke inhalation while working the Windsor Green fire. Hardee responded to a late night fire call on July 6, 2013, in Loris and became ill afterward. He died three days later at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach.
Carolina Brotherhood Bike Ride founder, Jim Squittieri, with Engine 3 Charlotte (N.C.) Fire Department said, “We are riding about 90 miles a day. You are hot, you are tired and you pull into something like this and it is all worth it. Then you look over and see a line of riders hugging Irene Hardee [Rodney's mother] and you just tear up.”
Irene Hardee, who was sitting in an SUV, said, “I never dreamed about them doing something like this.”
The riders wore fire helmets or hats and once off the bikes at the station they stacked them into a Gerin Helmet Pyramid and Assistant Chief Hardee’s helmet was placed in front.
The riders stretched, hydrated and visited with their hosts as members of the Horry County Sheriff’s Department grilled chicken along with a huge pot of chicken bog, and another pot of lima beans with ham hocks to ensure the riders would be refueled for the next leg of their trip.
They will depart the Loris Public Safety Building at 8 a.m. and be escorted to the Florence County line as they ride 71 miles to Lake City.
The ride began Tuesday in Raleigh and will end on Sunday in Charleston after covering about 500 miles.
First responders honored by this year’s ride were:
• Chief Scott Morrison – Knotts Island Volunteer Fire Department, N.C.
• Firefighter Tony Baker – Mountain View Volunteer Fire Department, N.C.
• Captain David Heath – New Hanover County Fire Rescue, N.C.
• Firefighter Jon Schondelmayer – Swift Creek Rural Fire Department, N.C.
• Chief Jeffery Fields – Youngsville Volunteer Fire Department, N.C.
• Police Officer Robert Bingaman – Asheville Police Department, N.C.
• Firefighter Michael Broz – Dorchester County Fire Department
• Assistant Chief Rodney Hardee – Loris Fire Department
• Deputy Sheriff Joseph Antwine – Florence County Sheriffs Office
• Deputy Sheriff Tim Causey – Horry County Sheriff’s office