ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A St. Johns County deputy who went down on his motorcycle and had to be airlifted to the hospital is speaking.
Deputy Tony Deleo said his crash could have been a lot worse.
“Lived to fight another day, I did survive,” Deleo said.
About a month ago, he was on County Road 210 with his lights and sirens on responding to a report of a stolen car when he said a truck pulled out in front of him.
“Part of our training when you’re faced with an obstacle like that, you have to make a split second decision, left, right or straight into that obstacle and I went off the road,” Deleo said.
He crashed into a tree and ended up against a power pole. His wife and children were headed to Orlando when they pulled up to the scene.
“My 13-year old, he was there crying I remember hearing him while going in and out of consciousness and I remember my wife kneeling down beside me,” Deleo said.
Deleo said he woke up a day later in the hospital with a broken forearm and major trauma to his knee. “I probably dislocated, separated three out of the four ligaments in my knee,” Deleo said.
Prior to his crash, he said he would be in the gym five to six times a week. He said doctors said that’s what helped save his life.
“Doctors said it’s because of that, because my workout ethic, is what saved my life at the scene because of my muscle mass,” Deleo said.
At one point there was a 60% chance he could lose his leg. Today he was using a walker to get around Since the crash, the community has raised nearly $25,000 through fund raiserseave dinners for the family in a cooler outside their front door daily.
“It’s like I’ve lived here my whole life, the community support, there’s too many people to thank I don’t even know where to begin,” Deleo said.
Even though Deleo has a long recovery ahead, he said he is determined to continue serving the community he loves.
“My goal is to get back 100 percent on the motorcycle back at the Sheriff’s Office doing what I love,” Deleo said.
Deleo said he hopes to be back on his motorcycle within the year.