ST. PAULS — For the second time in seven months, Lumberton police are mourning the death of a fellow officer who died violently while off duty.
Lumberton police Cpl. Duane Hunter, 53, of 1131 Oakland Road in St. Pauls, a detective and SWAT team leader for the Lumberton Police Department since 2001, died from multiple injuries after he crashed Sunday on McRainey Road off of U.S. 301 near St. Pauls. He died Monday at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.
“He is a guy that had passion for law enforcement,” Police Chief Mike McNeill said. “He didn’t stop with mandatory training. Any kind of update or training that came up, he would always take it and then teach everyone else. He wasn’t just a 9 to 5 police officer. I’ve never seen a guy so locked into law enforcement as this guy was. He always did things right, always followed the rules.”
According to Trooper M.J. Miles of the state Highway Patrol, Hunter was driving a 2006 Harley Davidson westward at 12:28 p.m. when he went through a curve and exited the road to road, striking a sign warning eastbound motorists of the sharp curve. The motorcycle overturned and ejected Hunter, who was wearing a helmet.
He estimated Hunter was traveling 45 mph in a 55-mph zone. The motorcycle, valued at $8,500, was destroyed.
“He almost made it through,” said Miles, adding that the motorcycle struck the last of the series of signs warning of the curve.
Miles said that emergency personnel were performing CPR when he arrived. but that Hunter suffered “multi-system trauma.”
“We’re a big family, we are going to get through this thing,” McNeill said. “It takes prayer and thoughts from the community. That’s going to help us get through this. Strong community support for our police family and his family is the best remedy.”
McNeill added that Hunter will not be forgotten.
“He left a legacy behind,” McNeill said. “He touched us all and set the tone for the department. He made the department better and the other police officers even better. Working with him was exciting and interesting. He was from New York, so you had to get used to the accent which made it fun. But all-in-all it was a good, no a great working relationship.”
On July 17, 2012, the Lumberton Police Department lost Master Police Officer Jeremiah M. Goodson, who was shot and killed while attempting to serve an arrest warrant. His accused killer was arrested and is being held without bone.
Goodson was off duty at the time, but tried to make the arrest anyway.