Within the first hours of the morning that the 2018 Atlantic Beach Bikefest began two people died, marking a tragic beginning to the weekend of festivities.
As attendees of the Blessing of the Bikes gathered Friday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center to pray for safety, many had learned only a few hours before of the two deaths earlier that morning. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said after the event, which held prayer for safety of bikers over the Bikefest weekend, that these deaths show why the event is so important.
"It's always sad and very unfortunate when anyone loses their life, no matter what they're doing," she said. "That is all the more reason to have events like this, where we can pray for these bikers, pray for their protection."
The first death of the morning happened around 2:30 a.m at the intersection of 8th Avenue North and Main Street, as a person fled a traffic stop after the police learned he was on a stolen bike, according to Capt. Joey Crosby with Myrtle Beach police.
According to Crosby, the person fled the stop at high speed and hit a curb, despite the officer not pursuing him at the time of the crash. The person was immediately rushed to the hospital, where the driver died a few moments later.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate.
A shooting marked the second death. The incident happened around 3 a.m. at Koyote Saloon in the area near Fantasy Harbor. When police arrived a man was sitting outside the saloon with a bloody rag on his head, claiming he fell down and did not remember what happened.
According to the incident report, officers found shell casings and vehicles damaged by gun fire in the parking lot.
There were two gunshot victims who were both taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center. Both victims were from the area, one from Myrtle Beach and the other from Conway.
One victim died shortly after being taken to the hospital. The other was rushed into surgery once arriving later to GSRMC.
Later Friday afternoon, it was announced that Koyote Saloon had its business license revoked in a notice from Alten Driggers, a Horry County business license inspector.
Mark Lazarus, the chairman of the Horry County Council, said county lawyers were already building a case against Koyote Saloon. Due to the business license being tied to nuisance laws, the county was able to act fast following the shooting incident.
"And so this was just like 'three strikes, you’re out,'" he said.
At the time of publication, the names of the victims and further context to the incident had not been released. The investigation is ongoing, and police are asking anyone with information to call 843-248-1520.
During the Blessing of the Bikes, others prayed for good weather and safe conditions. On Friday, before the event, the National Weather Service predicted that as the weekend continued heavier rain could be expected as a result of Subtropical Storm Alberto.
The harsh conditions created by the rain could create hazardous conditions on the road. For example, water can mask the depth of a pothole or imperfections on the road. Safety tips for biking in rain include driving slow, leaving plenty of breaking room, avoiding puddles and wearing waterproof clothing.
Bikefest continues for three more days. The Sun News will have around the clock coverage of Bikefest. Visit myrtlebeachonline.com for updates as the weekend continues.