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Tower Down - 07.01.20 (SC) "UPDATED 04.02.21"


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FIRST ALERT: Deputy seriously injured, Coast Guard searching for person in water after Don Holt crash



CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office says one of its deputies has been hospitalized with serious injuries after a crash on the Don Holt Bridge Wednesday morning.


The deputy was assisting the driver of a disabled vehicle when he was struck by a passing vehicle, Capt. Roger Antonio said.


Meanwhile, a Coast Guard spokesman says their agency is searching for a tow truck driver who may have gone over the bridge and into the water when the crash happened. That driver was said to be unaccounted for after the incident, the Coast Guard spokesman said, but he could provide no further details.


The Coast Guard and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office also have helicopters in the area.


The crash was reported at 9:51 a.m. and closed all westbound lanes for more than an hour. One lane reopened to allow traffic through.


RESOURCE LINK with video


NOTE: We're Praying the Tow Truck Driver will be found alive. Time is passing quickly and there are no follow up reports available yet. We will post any news reports or confirmations as they become available.


Charleston County Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page Asked for Prayers For the Deputy. However failed to mention the missing Tow Truck Driver.


Just replied:

"We pray for everyone involved in this incident. We initially released information only about our deputy because we are not handling the investigation. We added the request for prayer because praying is what we are doing.


To me that's not good enough, Please leave a thought here and then light them up as they should have asked for prayers for all involved. This is unacceptable! https://www.facebook.com/charlestoncountysheriff/


Additional Resource Link Added



Tow Truck Driver has been located:



Remembering Will Ellis:


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How aweful ... water rescues are extremely difficult and I'm praying for his survival. Different than the Sacramento rescue, at least the water is not moving too quickly.


I ask that you might pay attention to the news videos where, count all of the cops and police cars AFTER THE FACT. Why can't there be that kind of police presence to assist the original tow incident to provide traffic breaks? Are they there because an officer is struck? The news article starts out with specific mention of the officer and then segues into the tow truck being hit and missing.     R.

Randall C. Resch

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Thoughts and Prayers to both the Tow Truck Driver who has not been reported as located at this time. As well as the Police Officer who remains in Critical Condition without further updates to his status.


Now, can someone advise me by either email or inbox if the REPLY Button on this topic is not working. In the past there would have been 4 dozen replies with the First 4 hours the Tower Down Topic was up. I Don't Get It.... Collective Thought is Important, we Pray they bring our fellow tow operator home one way or another. His family needs to know his fate as I can only imagine the pain they are going through at this point.


God Bless

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Ron ... the reply seems to be working on my end as well as the site here allowing comments to be posted.


I've noticed the same thing in some of my recent posts asking for towers ... anyone to jump in. It's usually the same six to ten participants as always.


I'm confident that the search field is/has covered downstream movement and especially at the base of the piers. This waiting for news is the hardest part and really gives me a sickened feeling.      R.

Randall C. Resch

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A Very tragic situation.. I am praying that the water rescue team finds our missing brother operator so he can be returned to his family. Sadly, At this point the likely hood of finding him alive is not very realistic. The reporting on this incident is a joke. Its like " DEPUTY INJURED IN SERIOUS WRECK..... Oh and by the way, some tow truck guy is missing and presumed dead too...As far as the excessive L.E. on scene, If it wasnt one of theirs that was injured I could bet that not even HALF of the L.E. presence there at this point would be there 


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As the wife of Dale Jones, the tow truck  recovery operator that was struck and killed on 1/4/2020 in Watertown Sd, I can tell you that my heart goes out to this drivers family and friends, his community and fellow drivers, I will pray your loved one finds his way back to you. 

Before my husband died I did not know of this amazing, supportive, and dedicated community of  what I consider to be the front line heros of america. These amazing men and woman put themselves and thier families 2nd to the needs of stranded, confused, wrecked, lost and destroyed motorists, they live with a phone connected to them at all times, they hit the floor running day or night, they are there to help as a support to all 1st responders and customers, and yet they are the ones most often then not that go unnoticed,unsupported and unmentioned.

 I  believe they are due the same respect same consideration same backup as afforded a 1st responder. I have thought long and hard about what is needed to keep all  recovery specialists and emergency personnal safe.

In my opinion  changing the color of the lights on tow trucks is not a sufficient change to insure the law of slow down and move over, that would if adheard to save a majority of this industry's personnal and thier families the devastation of loss my family and myself have endured this year.

I believe that in order to keep everyone safe one of two things could be implemented. 

1. An officer should be on scene to direct traffic at every site 


2. Each tow truck should roll with 2 operators so one could monitor or direct traffic.

I also believe you all should be included in the same group as the police, emts, and ambulance population of 1st responders, to allow you the ability to be as promanet in the public's sight.

I also believe any motorist that doesnt abide the move over law that takes a life should be charged with vehicular manslaughter not just sited and fined if they take a life they should be held accountable.

I pray this family is restored whole with the return of thier loved one,

I know what I would give to have Dale home today.

To all you wonderful selfless and devoted heros I ask you please take every caution, use a buddy system and stay vigilant, please take the steps you need to return home to the ones you love. For the public does not take the time nor have the consideration and respect of you to keep you safe as of yet.

May god bless you, watch over and guide you and give you strength to ensure you keep returning home.



Mrs Jones

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Thank you for the update Val. I send many thanks to all the rescue personnel and searchers who worked tirelessly to find our fallen brother operator so he can be returned to his family. Rest easy Operator Ellis, Your shift is over.  


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I am so sorry for the senseless loss all of you are enduring within this brotherhood of recovery heros, the weight those that gave all they could to bring him home I can only imagine. All of you are special and amazingly compassionate people, I do not have the woods to eloquently sum up the immense appreciation I have for all you give of yourselves and all you give up to do what you do. 

To the family,

I pray that you feel the comfort of Gods hand on your shoulder to steady you on this rollercoaster of shock and disbelief. 

During this time as you stumble through the days and nights of grief, I want you to know your not alone, there are woman and families who have also walked this tragic road and should you find the need to talk or just for someone to listen please reach out, you do not have to do this on your own.

My deepest regret for your loss.


Mrs. Jones

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Lisa ... your words are truly uplifting and compassionate in the support of those families who have lost a loved one like yours. Thank you for your presence here. Your ideas (in a previous post) are well-accepted. Do consider that 1. law enforcement was on-scene as the tower was assisting on the Don Holt Bridge and 2: nearly ALL state laws don't consider tow trucks and carriers as emergency vehicles where using a second tow truck as a blocker vehicle while stopped in legal. Additionally, because Slow-Down Move-Over laws don’t work and most towers don't have the luxury of red and blue lights. Combine that with vehicle code laws that require four-point tie down, current laws put tow operators directly in harm's way. There are known “root problem” as to why towers are repeatedly killed and it’s gone far beyond common sense. And, that root problem can ultimately affect anyone who works on the highways.    R.


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Randall C. Resch

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As I mentioned above, like other tow operator fatalities and this one, there are known root problems in-why towers repeatedly get killed. And, this preventable incident openly mentions a problem in the system that works against first responders and towers. In an article written by South Carolina's, "Post and Courrier", newspaper, on July 1st, it wrote, "The Don Holt Bridge was built in 1992 and has a history of issues and bad crashes. The bridge’s design doesn’t make it easy for police and rescue crews to reach the scene of a wreck. There is no way off the elevated roadway between North Charleston and Daniel Island. It has no breakdown lanes, so a crash that jams traffic can force police and rescue crews to come from the opposite direction." The narrative goes on to say, "Authorities have blamed most of the collisions and accidents on drivers not paying attention, and many of the fatal accidents have involved drivers who struck vehicles that were disabled or stopped in traffic." Although this problem is KNOWN, SCDOT is CONSIDERING renovation citing cost, "the price tag is in the billions", what does that say about safety in the best interests of its residents, the safety of the responders, and the worth of Will Ellis's life?  That article was the state's placebo and another example of how bent the system is. The lack of tow operator and first responder safety is all about dollars and cents, not commen sense and programs and procedures that offer tow operator in creased protection. Unfortunately, for South Carolina to NOT have additional safety considerations in-place, they'll ultimately end up having to pay millions in a wrongful death lawsuit because "they" knew the bridge IS a death trap. This is a problem consistent to bridges all over America and I'm sure there's a treacherous bridge somewhere where you serve.       R.


Article Link:  https://www.postandcourier.com/news/don-holt-bridge-crash-leaves-charleston-deputy-seriously-injured-tow-truck-driver-missing/article_997596c4-bbb1-11ea-8b9f-cfaeff78d012.html

Randall C. Resch

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*I want to thank you for your response, I found it informative and supportive. I was married to Dale for 17 years, I knew his career was dangerous, as well as physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally demanding. I felt it my job to contain the fear I never could shake and be there to support him and provide a sanctuary in his home where he could  find the comfort and peace he needed at times to regenerate, I believed in him and his ability and need of helping others. I regret not taking the time or maybe I was afraid that if I focused on the trully unbelievable way you all are treated that I would jinx him, no matter the inexcusable reason I had I regret not being more knowledgable while he was alive to try and help find a solution to the challenges you all face.

I've always believed there is a way to accomplish anything, if only I wanted to find the way.

The rules that govern this industry are ignorant and they do not rise to the standard of the services expected in return. No one is expendable but it seems that is the view point of those that do not stand with you to facilitate a change. No matter what anyone thinks no matter thier opinions you all are 1st responders you deserve to be seen as such and I'm sorry those considerations are not at this time extended to you.

When I awoke to this nightmare, and after the funeral, when I could take a breath without my heart breaking in two, I promised myself that I would in some way make sure he did not die in vain. I would very much like to help in anyway I can to shine a light on the immeasurable loss this industry suffers constantly, simply because there are inadequate protocols to support a safe enviroment  for all of you. 

Thank you again 

Lisa Jones


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Hi Lisa ... your story and Jim's death is one of hundreds where loved ones walked out their doors only to have life taken from them. I pray for your continued strength in his loss. The industry has FAILED itself for not standing strong by not steppin up to say, "We ain't doing this no more". I've grown to be bitter because towers are thought to be indespensible where there's too much focus is on keeping traffic moving to keep commerce alive and not create secondary incidents. But what about primary incidents like your husbands? Thank you for offering to help out. May I ask if you're working on new legislation on Jim's behalf? Your participation here is one way to be involved as there may come a time for your voice to be heard. Jim's death is not in vain nor are the other 350+ towers killed working the highways.    R.

Randall C. Resch

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I am not currently working on legislation. I am still struggling through estate matters. I am juggling many ugly matters that have come as a result of Dale's death. I  am however moving closer to the day when I will ask for more of  a commitment from this state to address the nessasary needs to provide towers a safer work enviroment. After Dale died legislation agreed to changes the color of lights on the trucks to amber and they raised the fine on drivers that violated the move over law. They also named June "move over" month in Dale's honor, while those things may have some effect I found it to be a placating effort and I intend to ask for more from them that will effect true change, I want to bring this lack of equality to the fore front of every mind in america. 

All towers have a right to expect a safe job site,  and support in the services they perform. 

Dale was the 2nd tower to die this year and he died on the 4th of January, the number of lives lost or towers hurt every year is unacceptable and I believe this issue deserves more of an effort than what it has received so far. 

I hope you understand that I will do all I can to bring awareness to this issue not only for Dale but for all those that have passed and for all of you that continue to fight the good fight while continuing to be put at risk. 

Please stay safe, stay vigilant, stay aware, and take the time and take the steps you feel you all need to be safe at every incident.


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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 weeks later...

BERKELEY COUNTY (WCSC) - The estate of the tow truck driver killed in a July 1 crash on the Don Holt Bridge filed a wrongful death suit against two drivers and the South Carolina Department of Transportation.


Court documents state that the estate of Will Ellis, the tow truck driver who died in the crash, is suing Dale Phillips II, of Tennessee; Peter Katzburg, of Charleston; and the SCDOT in the crash that also seriously injured Charleston County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Costanzo.


The suit alleges that Katzburg’s vehicle became disabled on the westbound right-hand shoulder of the Don Holt Bridge. Ellis pulled behind Katzburg in a red rollback tow truck with warning lights on along the right shoulder, and Costanzo, a short time later, pulled directly behind Ellis’s tow truck with his blue lights activated to assist.


Court documents allege Phillips, the driver of a Ford F-350, was towing a trailer in the right-hand lane when the truck slammed into the rear of the deputy's vehicle, pushing it into the deputy and Ellis. The impact seriously injured both men and caused Ellis to fall over the short concrete wall on the right-most edge of the bridge.


The suit states Ellis "suffered severe injury from the collision on the bridge and also lost his life as a result of the fall from the bridge into the water below."


The lawsuit claims Katzburg was negligent in failing to exercise due care. It claims Phillips was negligent, failed to exercise due care, failed to keep a proper lookout, was driving distracted, following too closely and violating the state’s Motor Vehicle Act. It also claims he failed to complay with the law requiring significant reduction in speed and lane change to the land not adjacent of the emergency vehicle and was driving too fast for conditions.


The suit states the SCDOT was negligent by "failing to engineer a forgiving quality to the shoulder of the roadway, failing to engineer sinage to warn approaching traffic of stopped cars on the crest of the bridge, failing to engineer a side wall tall enough or with railings to prevent inadvertent or disabled pedestrians from falling over the side, and failing to engineer a fence or net to allow forgiveness to the inevitable and foreseeable circumstance of pedestrians who are forced over the short concrete side wall."


The suit seeks actual, general and punitive damages and seeks a jury trial.

Ellis’s body was recovered the next day.

Deputy injured in crash transferred to Ga. treatment center

Costanzo, 49, is continuing his recovery at an Atlanta hospital.


The Shepherd Center in Atlanta confirmed last month that Costanzo was transferred to its facility for brain injury rehabilitation. He suffered the brain injury, as well as a broken arm, clavicle and back, a shattered femur and a crushed ankle in the crash.


He was admitted to Shepherd Center’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program, where he will begin therapy under the guidance of a full team of medical and rehabilitation specialists, Shepherd spokesperson Jane Sanders said.

The Shepherd Center specializes in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury.


Costanzo’s family said they are grateful “for the excellent care he received while at MUSC Health University Medical Center.”


Medical and rehabilitation teams typically consist of an attending physician, nurses, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a speech language pathologist, a recreation therapist, a case manager, a peer support specialist, a dietitian, a psychologist and a chaplain.


Those who want to send a card of encouragement may mail it to Michael Costanzo, c/o Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta GA 30309.


For those who want to donate online to help support the medical-related expenses for Officer Costanzo, a Serve and Connect account is available.


Costanzo worked with the sheriff’s office from 1994 to 2006, and returned to the agency in April of 2017.

Deputies say he has served as a much-loved school resource officer at Sullivan’s Island Elementary during the school year and was assigned to the Marine Patrol Unit this summer.


No word on charges in crash

Since the day of the crash, the South Carolina Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.


MAIT investigates complicated vehicle crashes, using state-of-the-art technology and analysis to reconstruct the scene, the agency’s website states.


There has been no word on whether charges are likely to be filed because the crash has remained under investigation.

Cpl. Matt Southern said last month there was no timetable on when the investigation would be complete because each accident was different.


RESOURCE LINK with video


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  • 4 weeks later...

Follow up on officer:


Charleston County deputy hurt in crash is now able to walk again


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston County deputy seriously hurt in a crash on the Don Holt bridge two months ago is now able to walk again.


Deputy Mike Costanzo is being treated at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and released a statement on Wednesday.


“I have been rehabilitating during my time at Shepherd Center, and I am very appreciative of the staff here," Costanzo said. "I am able to walk again, and my motivation is to get back to serving as a deputy sheriff. I can see and feel all of the love and support from everyone in Charleston. I am so grateful.”


Just two weeks after the crash, Costanzo told his fellow deputies he would be back at the sheriff’s office on Oct. 15.


No charges have been filed in connection to the July 1 crash. A tow truck driver named Will Ellis was killed.


His family is now suing two drivers involved in the crash.


State troopers say no charges have been formally filed as of yet.



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I'm hopeful that Deputy Constanzo is able to recover fully from his injuries and return to duty. While his physical recovery means lots of work, there's always the after effect of a mental block. As far as no charges being filed as of yet, these investigations sometimes take years before any charges are filed. The civil liability in this case is huge and involves many parties also hoping that the untimely loss of Will Ellis will be compensated. Personally, I don't think this crash was an, "accidental happening", and there should be some level of accountability.     R.

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Randall C. Resch

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In a perfet word Ron, a true statement indeed. The difficult part is the prosecutions case to prove intent necessary to convict. In the trial against the female who killed Alabama tower, John Hubbard, December 2016, they didn't prove intent and the jury determined she didn’t do anything wrong to cause a criminally negligent action.  Although prosecutors said she was driving 93-mph when she collided with a parked car that struck  Hubbard, that jury acquitted the female of criminally negligent homicide. Was there wanton and willful disregard that caused John's death? One would think that driving a vehicle far beyond the speed limit IS a gross violation. However, speed wasn't said to be the cause of that crash. Was she aware that her actions would present a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm? Go figure. And, in this crash that killed Will Ellis, I read some news report that suggested, "someone", cut the pickup truck's driver off. Could this too end with the same acquittal that suggests the crash was a simple accident. It'll be a few years before we'll know.          R.                         Look at the attached link to read some similarities.



Randall C. Resch

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  • 2 months later...


CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on a crash that killed a tow truck driver and injured a Charleston County deputy on the Don Holt Bridge in July of 2020.


While no new information was released about the crash, it did detail some of the actions that occurred during the incident on the morning of July 1st, 2020.


According to the report, the deputy and tow truck driver were assisting a disabled vehicle in the far-right westbound lane of the Don Holt bridge.


The NTSB is still investigating the circumstances of the crash, the commercial operation of the pick-up truck, and highway issues.


No charges have been filed in this case. The South Carolina Highway Patrol’s MAIT Team said their investigation is on-going.



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  • 3 months later...

Only citations for truck driver in fatal Don Holt Bridge crash; Injured deputy suing


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — South Carolina Highway Patrol has told victims of a deadly July 2020 multi-vehicle collision on Interstate 526 they've only issued citations to the Tennessee man who crashed his truck into a Charleston County Sheriff's Office deputy's patrol vehicle, severely injuring the deputy and causing the death of a tow truck driver.


State Troopers ticketed pickup driver, Dale E. Phillips II, for driving too fast for conditions and endangering emergency personnel by his actions in the moments leading up to the fateful collision on the Don Holt Bridge the morning of July 1.


Family members and attorneys for the victims of the crash confirmed to ABC News 4 on Friday Highway Patrol informed them of the decision not to file more serious charges. The agency is expected to release its final investigative report on the case soon.



Will Ellis [L], tow truck driver, and Deputy Mike Costanzo. (Provided)


Phillips, of Mountain City, Tennessee, also now faces a second civil lawsuit in connection to the incident. Court records show Charleston County Deputy Michael Costanzo filed a complaint against Phillips in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas, accusing him of negligence and asking for a jury trial in hopes of being awarded damage compensation.


Costanzo suffered severe life-threatening injuries requiring multiple surgeries and months of hospitalization when Phillips' Ford F-350 truck crashed into the back of Costanzo's patrol vehicle atop the Don Holt Bridge.


Minutes before the crash, Costanzo had stopped in the far right lane of the bridge to assist a motorist whose SUV had broken down. A tow truck driver, Will Ellis, arrived moments later, and stopped as well.


The hazard lights of both Costanzo's cruiser and Ellis tow truck were on as Phillips approached them from behind, according to reports by the S.C. Highway Patrol and the National Transportation Safety Board.


State Troopers say Phillips did not move over into either the center or far left lane on the bridge, and instead crashed first into the back of the deputy's patrol vehicle. The force of the collision sent the disabled SUV careening across oncoming traffic into the far left lane, while Phillips' truck continued pushing Costanzo's cruiser into the back of the tow truck ahead.


Deputy Costanzo and Ellis both were out of their vehicles on the bridge at the time of the crash, standing between the tow truck and the patrol car as Phillips' F-350 made impact.


Ellis died after being hit by the wreckage and falling over the side of the Don Holt Bridge into the Cooper River some 150 feet below. His body was recovered a day later. Ellis' family also filed negligence and recklessness complaints against Ellis in civil court last year.


Both Costanzo and the Ellis family also have sued the driver of the disabled vehicle, and the owner of that vehicle, accusing them too of negligence.

The South Carolina Dept. of Transportation additionally is named in the Ellis family's lawsuit, accused of negligence related to an alleged unsafe engineering of the bridge and failure to install an alert system to warn drivers of vehicles stopped on the bridge.



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