May 15—An Horry-Georgetown Technical College student and local firefighter who died in March was awarded a posthumous degree at the college's graduation Tuesday afternoon.
Nearly 100 firefighters and paramedics from Horry County and Pawleys Island gathered to pay tribute to Daniel Roy, an EMT student and firefighter with Midway Fire Rescue who died in March from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on Highway 17 in Myrtle Beach.
Roy's friend and classmate, Bill Rosas, who was one of the first people to respond at the scene, accepted the degree on his behalf.
"This is absolutely exceptional," Rosas said. "He put in the time, he put in the work and he put in his heart for the job, and to be able to honor him with giving him that degree, it's beyond words."
Rosas was working with Station 31 in Surfside when the department received a call of a vehicle wreck. After he arrived at the scene and realized his friend was involved, Rosas said he felt numb but knew he had a job to do. He stayed at Roy's side until they arrived at the hospital.
Roy died after being in intensive care for several days at Grand Strand Regional Trauma Center.
When the chance to accept Roy's degree at graduation became an option, Rosas said he jumped at the opportunity, knowing how emotional the moment would be for him, explaining he simply wanted to honor his friend.
"For me, I've been doing this job for 26 years, so I can put a lot of things aside, but today has been especially hard," Rosas said. "It's mind-numbing and heart wrenching at the same time."
College president Marilyn Fore said that at the time of Roy's passing he was still active in two classes and had nearly completed all of his academic requirements necessary to earn his EMT Paramedics Certificate Degree. Fore said she worked with professors, staff and the fire department to award the credits to satisfy the degree.
"I hurt so much for the sake that the student had met the end of his life when they had nearly completed the degree," Fore said. "It's going to be sad to some extent but a glorious occasion to celebrate his life."
While the college has provided family members of deceased students with degrees in the past, it's the first time it has been presented during graduation.
"He satisfied his requirements of the programs and he needs to be given that degree," Fore said. "It's going to be gratifying and an honor not only to the deceased young man but to recognize the profession he was going into."
Roy's parents were also in attendance during the commencement. Mark and Sue Roy, who teared up during the ceremony, said traveling from McDonough, Ga., to see their son honored was an important moment for their family.
"We didn't think it was going to happen. We thought he was going to pull through and redo (his classes) next year," Sue Roy said. "He worked so hard at getting this and gave it his all; there's no way we would let that piece of paper just go away."
Describing their son as a go-getter who was full of energy and took joy in helping others, Sue Roy said her son's passion was to become a paramedic and eventually a nurse. While the last few months have been a struggle, with Sue Roy describing the night of the accident as shocking and horrible, she said her family has found comfort in knowing so many cherished her son.
"We've got so much pride. A lot of times when you see us crying it's not always the fact that we miss him, it's the pride that everybody has for him and what they've done for him," Sue Roy said. "It gives us pride because we know how much he was loved."