South Carolina

Marine Corps vet who died in bicycling accident remembered as ‘conversationalist’

Pictured from left is Elshawn Morton, brother; Emma Morton, mother; and Staff Sgt. Stanley Morton who was riding a bicycle on S.C. 170 Friday night, May 13, 2016 and was struck and killed by three vehicles, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol
Pictured from left is Elshawn Morton, brother; Emma Morton, mother; and Staff Sgt. Stanley Morton who was riding a bicycle on S.C. 170 Friday night, May 13, 2016 and was struck and killed by three vehicles, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol Submitted

Elshawn Morton will remember his brother’s voice.

When Stanley Morton talked, his younger brother said, his voice wasn’t too high, wasn’t too low.

“It was jovial, manly, hearty,” Elshawn Morton said Wednesday during a phone interview. “Something about it – laughter that carried life in it.”

There were no short conversations with Stanley Morton. The talks were always long, like the phone call he made to his younger brother on April 15. It was Elshawn Morton’s wedding anniversary, and he and his wife were driving from Redford, Mich., to a casino in Detroit. The brothers talked about their mother, whose birthday was also that day. Stanley Morton, calling from his home in Okatie, boasted he’d recently made a good Lowcountry boil.

When the family first learned about the May 13 accident on S.C. 170 near River’s End Road that claimed his life, they’d assumed he was on his motorcycle. But they soon learned he was riding a bicycle, and he’d been struck by three cars. Stanley Morton, a Marine Corps veteran originally from Peoria, Ill., was 45.

The family – which includes his seven siblings – is still in shock, Elshawn Morton said.

The younger Morton remembers being his older brother’s “shadow.” As youngsters growing up in Peoria, the pair went trick-or-treating on Halloween. They wore imitation fur and hats from their mother’s closet, called themselves “warlocks.” They stayed out past midnight filling their pillowcases full of candy.

“We broke curfew and got in trouble,” Elshawn Morton said. “But it was worth it because of all that candy.”

Stanley Morton was a big Rick James fan, according to his younger brother.

“He would break-dance and pop-lock,” his brother said, “and he was a DJ, too.”

DJ Tunez was Morton’s stage name. He once walked one of his daughter’s down the aisle, then turned around and DJed the wedding reception, his brother said.

After 20 years in the Marine Corps, Morton retired in November 2015. His family traveled from the Midwest to South Carolina for a retirement ceremony. During the festivities, Morton’s wife presented him with a retirement present – a grill.

“He was grinning ear to ear,” his younger brother said. “He kept running outside to check the knobs and everything.”

The Marine Corps – living in places like Japan, Hawaii and the Middle East – is the genesis of those long conversations, at least that’s what Elshawn Morton theorizes. His brother had seen so much of the world, had a rich perspective to share.

“When you’re exposed to a lot of locations like that, you’re going to have a lot to say,” Morton said, referring to his brother as a “conversationalist.”

On April 15, as the brothers spoke on the phone, Stanley Morton talked about his new grill and joked he’d become a “master chef.” The pair talked about their mother’s birthday. And they talked about the trip the younger Morton had planned to South Carolina to visit his older brother.

And that was the last conversation they had.

An ongoing investigation

The S.C. Highway Patrol is still investigating the accident that claimed Stanley Morton’s life.

Patrol spokesperson Lance Cpl. Matthew Southern said Wednesday that, so far, no charges have been filed in Morton's death. Two of the three cars believed to have struck him have not been identified.

Southern said the crash report indicated that Morton was not wearing reflective clothing. The report did not say whether he was riding in a bike lane.

The hit-and-run remains under investigation by the Highway Patrol’s Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team, Southern said.

The Ride of Silence

Hilton Head Island’s Kickin' Asphalt Bicycle Club is sponsored its eighth annual Ride of Silence at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at 95 Matthews Dr. on Hilton Head.

The ride honors cyclists who have been injured or killed by motor vehicles, and reminds the public that cyclists are, by law, considered motor vehicles and therefore entitled to the same rights.

The 9-mile ride had a police escort. It began at Street Meet American Take-out & Tavern in the Port Royal Plaza Shopping Center and traveled silently on U.S. Business 278 to Queens Way, where turned around and headed back to Street Meet.

“This is more like a funeral procession, the way I look at it, to honor those who have been killed or injured,” event organizer John Marcinowski said.

Reporter Caitlin Turner contributed to this report. Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston