TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — The body of fallen Lake City Police Lt. John Stewart was escorted back to a funeral home in Florence County, officials said early Sunday afternoon.
Stewart died in the line of duty on Friday after a chase, and his body was taken to MUSC Charleston for an autopsy. Officers have been with Stewart’s body during the entire trip to and from MUSC, according to Major Michael Nunn of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. LCPD Chief Jody Cooper and other members of the department rode along.
“This one hits a little bit differently because it was an officer. It was a family member,” Cooper said. “The ride to Charleston was so long, so exhausting. I think I wept all the way there.”
The body of the 20-year law-enforcement veteran was en route Sunday afternoon to the Bacote-Eaddy Funeral Home in Timmonsville, Nunn said. The escort traveled along Highway 52 through Lake City and onto Alligator Road en route to the funeral home, Nunn said. Stewart’s family watched as the motorcade arrived. Lt. Stewart’s brother said news of his death took him by surprise.
“He took his job very seriously,” William Stewart, brother of Lt. Stewart said. “Somebody told me my brother got killed and I said, ‘No, I just talked to him.’ I hadn’t been off the phone with him for five to seven minutes.”
Lt. Stewart’s son Tayshaun first heard his father had died when his older brother picked him up from school.
“He always provided for me, wanted the best for me, took care of me,” Tayshaun Stewart said. “He was my father and I loved him very much.”
No funeral arrangements have been announced for Stewart, whose body arrived in Lake City about 4 p.m. Since his death, condolences have streamed in across social media from various law-enforcement agencies across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions.
“He’s truly a hero. He gave the ultimate sacrifice, and we can never appreciate that,” Cooper said. “We can never repay him for that.”
Authorities said Stewart died after the pursuit initiated by Lake City police, but no additional details have been released.
Stewart previously worked for the W. Glenn Campbell Detention Center, the Hartsville Police Department, and the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office.