A Kershaw County sheriff’s deputy who died Wednesday was a school resource officer popular with those who knew him.
Rob Evans, 50, a 14-year Sheriff’s Department veteran, was directing school traffic Tuesday outside Wateree Elementary, as he did most weekday afternoons, when he collapsed. Evans, a married father of two, was a school resource officer at Lugoff-Elgin Middle and served as a sports announcer for football and baseball for the Lugoff-Elgin High demons.
“He was loved – you always hear that – but Rob really was, he was so great with kids,” Sheriff Jim Matthews said Wednesday morning. “He was very involved with the kids and went the extra mile with them,” Matthews said. “He will be hard to replace.”
Evans went above and beyond his job as a school resource officer, said Mary Anne Byrd, spokeswoman for the Kershaw County School District.
“He was more than just a law enforcement officer – he contributed to the students in a lot of different ways, including being assistant basketball coach for Lugoff-Elgin Middle School,” Byrd said.
Evans also was instrumental in bringing an anti-bullying and student kindness program, founded after the 1999 mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, Byrd said. That program, based on the acts of active kindness displayed by Rachel Scott, a Columbine High student slain in the massacre, teaches students positive ways to interact with others.
“Just next week, he was going to give a presentation for parents on cyber-bullying,” Byrd said.
Lugoff Fire Chief Dennis Ray just happened to be on the scene when Evans collapsed outside Wateree Elementary.
“He was directing traffic, and he had stopped it going toward Lugoff, and he turned and that’s when he just collapsed,” said Ray, who not six minutes earlier had exchanged a smile and a wave with Evans “just like always.” Ray, in his pickup truck, didn’t actually see Evans fall – witnesses told him that later.
But Ray was close enough to the scene that, when he saw a commotion, he turned his pickup truck with its flashing lights as close by where Evans had collapsed. By that time, two mothers who are nurses were giving CPR to Evans.
“He had no pulse and he was not breathing,” said Ray, who called his firefighters for help. Evans, who apparently lost consciousness immediately and had no chance to put out his arms, also struck his head on the pavement when he fell.
As the nurses did CPR, the firefighters arrived, taking over from them, giving Evans oxygen and then shocking his heart with a defibrillator.
Evans was then taken to nearby Kershaw Health hospital, where he was stabilized.
Then he was transported with a substantial police escort through heavy rush hour traffic to Providence Hospital in Columbia. Providence has a reputation as one of the region’s finest heart centers.
At Providence, he was operated on, authorities said, and it appeared that he might have a chance to make it.
“We thought we might have been over the worst,” Ray said.
But early Wednesday, the word went out that Evans had died.
The news set off shock waves in Kershaw County law and fire circles.
“In Kershaw County, the police, fire, EMS – we all are close, like family,” Ray said. “Rob would come by here and visit the station. “It’s a tragic event for us because we all know each other so well.”
Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.