Hampton County, SC – South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Corporal A. David Cook died on Monday after a months-long battle against a rare form of cancer.
Cpl. Cook, 43, joined the South Carolina Highway Patrol in 2011, but he was involved in emergency services long before he became a member of law enforcement, the Island Packet reported.
Born and raised in Hampton County, Cpl. Cook got his first job working in emergency medical services for the county when he was a junior in high school.
He spent 25 years in law enforcement, EMS, and fire-rescue agencies all over the southern part of the state in both a full and part-time capacity, the Island Packet reported.
A Lowcountry boy, Cpl. Cook stayed in the southern half of the state and worked in Allendale, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Hampton, and Jasper counties.
When Cpl. Cook joined the highway patrol, he started out in Troop 6 serving Beaufort and Jasper, the Island Packet reported.
He transferred to Troop 8 and the Safety Improvement Team in 2017, WIS reported.
Four days before he died of bile duct cancer, Cpl. Cook was welcomed home to Hampton County for hospice care from the Medical University of South Carolina hospital where he had been in treatment, the Island Packet reported.
The corporal was transported to the Hampton Regional Medical Center via ambulance and welcomed home by a massive crowd of firefighters, medics, and law enforcement officers from all over the state.
An ambulance from Allendale County EMS, where Cpl. Cook had worked for more than 20 years, picked him up for the drive home, according to the Island Packet.
The ambulance was led by a state highway patrol escort and along the way, a motorcade formed behind it made up of emergency vehicles from every county they passed through.
The roadways were also lined with people, police cars and ambulances. The emergency vehicles flashed their lights and sounded their sirens in tribute to the terminally-ill trooper, the Island Packet reported.
“The South Carolina Highway Patrol is so grateful for the support of Lowcountry first responders and the community during L/Cpl. Cook’s illness and for the amazing show of support during the procession from MUSC to Hampton Regional Medical Center,” South Carolina Highway Patrol Colonel Chris Williamson said. “L/Cpl. Cook served his community as a firefighter, EMT and trooper. He had a true heart for helping others.”
As they approached their final destination, the corporal’s hometown hospital, his friends in the ambulance opened the back doors so the sick trooper could witness the display of love and support from his community and colleagues that included at least 50 police cars.
“We woke him up, and he started figuring out what was going on,” Allendale County EMS Director John Lawson told the Island Packet. “His eyes lit up and he smiled from ear to ear. He couldn’t believe it.”
“All of this is for me?” Cpl. Cook asked.
“Yes, it sure is, man,” Lawson told him.
He said everyone was in tears.
“You’re riding down the road trying to hold back tears of sadness to be strong for him,” Lawson said. “Then you see that happen and you don’t know whether you’re crying because you’re sad or you’re crying because you’re happy that he’s happy.”
Friends said that Cpl. Cook was a fighter and that he made an impression everywhere he worked, according to the Island Packet.
“We knew if there was anybody that could fight this off - and he has for much longer than they expected - it would be David,” South Carolina Highway Patrol Sergeant Amery English said.
But it wasn’t the first time that Cpl. Cook faced off with cancer, the Island Packet reported.
Years earlier, he battled kidney cancer and won.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Corporal David Cook, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.