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''Heart of a True Survivor''

"Heart of a true survivor": Former deputy honored at Chamber meeting. 

A former law enforcement officer’s perseverance in overcoming life-threatening injuries from a 2020 crash took the spotlight at the Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce Aug. 17 luncheon, as Mike Costanzo was the proud recipient of the latest First Responder’s Award.

Presenting the honorary hardware was Mount Pleasant Councilmember Carl Ritchie, who recounted what his friend and former Charleston County deputy endured — and ultimately conquered — in the aftermath of a July 1 collision on the Don Holt Bridge that saw a Ford F-350 pickup truck smash Costanzo’s cruiser while also hitting the officer in the process.

Costanzo was responding to a broken-down SUV at the time of the devastating accident that claimed the life of tow truck driver Will Ellis.

The life-altering event resulted in Costanzo suffering a head injury and several broken bones that required a four-month stay in an Atlanta facility, where the one-time first responder learned how to walk again.
“After losing a career that he loved so much and sustaining such life-altering injuries, it would have been so easy for him to give up,” observed Ritchie in front of a packed audience of Chamber members and guests at the Omar Shrine Temple.

“Mike did not choose easy. Mike has a warrior mentality and a heart of a true survivor. Since this tragic and life-changing incident, Mike’s found a true purpose. He volunteers and assists with the Wando High School baseball team and travel teams. He also volunteers and is a mentor to other survivors of similar incidents and disabilities. What an incredible thing for him to do and not just sit ... and wonder [about] what happened to him — it’s amazing to see.”

In addition to being an inspiration to youngsters and others who experienced similar trauma, Costanzo finds time to motivate Ritchie in the weight room as well, according to the elected official and former police chief who will soon be running for the sheriff’s post in Charleston County.

Ralph Mancini

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