LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - The drive into the Lancaster County town of Van Wyck on Highway 5 now honors a man who died doing what he loved, serving his community as a volunteer firefighter.
The Dennis Straight Memorial Highway was dedicated Thursday. The stretch of roadway is not far from where Straight was hit while responding to a crash.
Straight was Chief at the Van Wyck Fire Department when he was directing traffic at the on-ramp of Highway 5, on November 7, 2018. Straight was hit by a vehicle and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Straight’s good friend and fellow firefighter, Mike Metcalf, rushed to the scene that night.
“We miss Dennis every day. I mean Dennis was a father figure to some of us, he was a mentor, a leader,” Metcalf said at the dedication ceremony today.
“It hasn’t gotten any easier. The 7th of every month, you know, there's another month that's passed. We're coming up on seven months. Soon it will be a year. It’s still difficult, Metcalf said of the pain of losing 59-year-old Straight.
Metcalf was instrumental in pushing for the Memorial Highway. He wants to make sure his friend is never forgotten.
“Knowing that I could do this for him and that way no one will ever forget him. That way when people go up Highway Five people will realize, we lost a great man,” Metcalf said of the sign’s importance.
“Maybe in the back of their minds, when someone drives down the road, they'll remember to slow down and remember the “Move Over Law”. Just take fifteen seconds to slow down a little bit. If you see the flashing lights just give us a few seconds. Fifteen seconds, thirty seconds out of your day, that could save our lives,” Metcalf told us.
Metcalf’s widow, Jane, was at the ceremony today. She said when he first joined the department, nothing made her husband happier than a call to serve. She laughed, that as he got older, he wasn’t ALWAYS as enthusiastic about late-night calls.
When asked what she thought of the Memorial Highway in honor of her late husband, she said, “I really don’t have the words.”
All 50 states have a "move over" law. South Carolina passed the law in 1994.
If you violate the “move over” law, you could face a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to five hundred dollars.