The Horry County Sheriff's Department is mourning the death of one of its own.
Sheriff's Deputy Timothy Causey, 50, died Sunday, more than two months after he fell ill while providing security during the Windsor Green condo fire.
It was the duty of Sgt. Jeff Benton to inform his fellow officers in the sheriff's department of Causey's death.
"Gosh, it was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do because we loved Tim so much," Benton said.
Causey was providing security at the March 16 fire when he began feeling sick and was hospitalized for smoke inhalation.
While at Medical University hospital in Charleston, he was diagnosed with H1N1, or swine flu, and was placed into a medically-induced coma.
At a fundraiser for his family last month, his oldest daughter expressed faith her father would recover and as recently as Mother's Day, Benton says Causey seemed to be improving.
"Tim was awake, he was responding, he was looking around, he was able to mumble to them, 'I love you, I love you girls.' "
But as the week progressed, Causey's condition deteriorated. He died around 9 a.m. Sunday, Benton says.
It has not been determined whether Causey was already sick with the flu before working the fire. That means doctors haven't yet decided whether he died in the line of duty.
If doctors make that determination, Causey's widow would be eligible for, among other things, a federal death benefit of more than $300,000 and his children would be able to attend any state school in South Carolina tuition-free.
Benton says that's for the medical examiners to decide. For now, he says, the sheriff's department is doing what it can for Causey's family.
"We lost a great man. We lost a great co-worker, a great Christian friend. What a great dad," Benton said.
Causey's funeral will be today at 5 p.m. at Green Sea Floyds High School, where his youngest daughter is a senior and preparing to graduate this spring.