FAIR BLUFF, NC (WWAY) -- A Fair Bluff man should have had every reason to celebrate yesterday, as he won the town's race for mayor. Instead he had every reason to mourn, as his brother, who was also running for office, died on Election Day.
Town Commissioner candidate Mike Hammond died of an apparent massive heart attack just hours before his brother was elected mayor.
"I was passing by (Hammond's house), and I saw an ambulance there, but there was no significant activity," current Fair Bluff Mayor Randy Britt said.
Thinking something minor was going on at Hammond's home, Britt kept driving to his office on Main Street.
Britt says earlier in the day, Hammond was campaigning at the town's polling place at the fire and rescue station before he felt sick and went home. He was eventually taken to the hospital in Whiteville, where he was pronounced dead. Britt says Hammond died of a massive heart attack.
"He's had some health problems, and he has been pretty much disabled for the past 20-something years," Britt said. "I certainly hope the stress of the election didn't have anything to do with this."
The election was particularly meaningful for the Hammond family. Mike's brother Billy, who currently serves as a town commissioner, was elected mayor Tuesday night.
"Billy... when I spoke with him on the telephone, you could tell he was really down," Britt said.
People who knew the 59-year-old Mike say he was a kind man.
Although this was his first run for town commission it was not the only time he was involved with town affairs.
"I know he used to work for the town years ago. He just seemed like a pretty cool guy to me," Fair Bluff firefighter Clayton McCoy said.
There were four people vying for three commissioner seats, including Britt. Mike Hammond finished fourth.
We reached out to Mayor-elect Billy Hammond, but we have not heard back.
Mayor Britt says the community will heal together over the next week.