Man DUI before fatal wreck with Horry County police officer

The Horry County Police Department.

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A North Carolina man who died last year after a car wreck with an Horry County police officer was driving under the influence, according to the crash report.

Marcus “Mark” Gattis, 58, died June 27, 2021 after the collision with Horry County police sergeant Justin Jones just outside Loris.

A report from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, which The Sun News obtained via a FOIA request, states that Gattis caused the wreck by driving under the influence of alcohol.

Gattis was originally from Loris but had been living near Tabor City and Whiteville in North Carolina, according to the Horry County Coroner’s Office. The police officer involved in the deadly crash received minor injuries, according to a Facebook post from the Horry County Police Department.

The wreck happened about 11:30 p.m. when Gattis, driving a 1996 GMC pickup truck, made a right turn off of Sec. 66 to head south on S.C. 9, according to the crash report.

Jones, driving an Horry County Police Department car, was heading south with police lights and sirens activated. The police car was a 2021 Ford Explorer.

Gattis, who was under the influence, did not yield to Jones’ right of way, according to the crash report, causing Jones to hit Gattis’ car on the driver’s side. The collision caused Gattis’ car to run off the right side of the road. Gattis’ car then hit a ditch and caught fire.

Jones’ police car ran off the left side of the road, hit a median cable barrier, and caught fire, the crash report states.

Jones was driving at an estimated speed of 119 miles per hour at the time of the crash, according to the report. Gattis was driving at an estimated speed of 15 miles per hour. The posted speed limit in the area was 60 miles per hour.

Gattis was pronounced dead at the scene. He was trapped in the car and had to be extricated by mechanical means, the report states.

Jones sustained “non-incapacitating” injuries. The crash report does not elaborate on the type of injuries Jones sustained.

Jones is a sergeant with the Horry County Police Department, according to county employee records. He was taken to Conway Medical Center following the car crash, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

A blood test detected alcohol and marijuana in Gattis’ system, the report states. The crash report lists driving under the influence as the primary contributing factor to the wreck. No other contributing factors are listed.

The weather conditions were clear and it was dark outside with no street lights on.

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Jenna Taha Farhat is a reporter from Wichita, Kansas covering breaking news in Myrtle Beach and Horry County. She speaks Arabic.