GOLDSBORO — Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders died Friday morning after suffering what appeared to be a massive heart attack, county officials said.
An announcement on the county website said EMS medics treated Winders at his home and then rushed him to Wayne Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Winders, who grew up in the county’s Nahunta community, was first elected in 1994.
He was the first Republican elected sheriff in country history, according to his biography.
Winders had been a Goldsboro patrolman and investigator for 10 years before running for sheriff.
State law says that because Wayne County does not use a designation of chief deputy, the sheriff’s deputy with the most years of service assumes the sheriff’s duties until county commissioners name someone to fill the sheriff’s unexpired term.
They also can choose to call a special election.
Winders was last elected in 2010, and the office already was to be on this year’s ballot.
Funeral arrangements for Winders were pending, the county said.