Bear with us for a few moments as we paint the picture of a true American hero: Tony DeLeo.
Tony is 20-year veteran of the New York Police Department and currently an esteemed and loved member of the St. Johns County Sherriff’s Office in Florida.
In July of 2017, Tony was injured in an on-duty motorcycle crash as a Deputy Sheriff.
In broad daylight, with his lights and sirens on, he was responding to a report of a stolen car when a truck suddenly pulled out in front of him.
Tony had a split-second decision to make, one that would alter his life forever: swerve left, veer right or run smack into the tuck.
He ended up choosing to go off the curvy main road, crashed into an enormous tree, was thrown off his bike and violently hit a concrete power pole.
His leg hyperextended backwards and ruptured his femoral artery which started to bleed into his leg.
Tony also suffered a broken forearm and wrist that required a steel plate and eight screws to fix.
Not to mention dislocating and separating three of the four ligaments in his knee.
Tony doesn’t remember much from the accident, but what he does recall is horrifying.
“I was going in and out of consciousness but remember my 13-year-old son crying,” Tony said. “My wife was kneeling beside me. They quickly life-flighted me to the hospital, underwent emergency surgery and I was subsequently put on life support.”
Prior to the accident, Tony basically lived in the gym.
He’d workout 5-6 times per week. Remarkably, because of his work ethic and sheer muscle mass, doctors say that’s what saved his life.
After a closer look, surgeons said there was severe nerve damage in his leg, and there was a 60% chance he would either lose it or never regain the use of it.
But they didn’t know how much heart and grit Tony DeLeo, an all-around badass, had.
“I persevered,” Tony said. “They told me I may never walk again but I began walking without a cane just a few months after the accident.”
Even more amazing, Tony returned to the gym just two months after the incident. He’s since had PCL/ACL reconstructive surgery on his knee and went back to work serving and protecting just six months after he almost died.
During his recovery, Tony read the SCARS narrative on our website and it changed his philosophy on what he was going through.
“I have some horrible scars from the surgeries and skin grafts,” Tony said. “But I wore them with pride after reading APEMAN’s SCARS narrative. I wore APEMAN shirts before the incident but the inspirational message you convey means more to me now. I have fought hard to get to my current place.”
Tony still has a long journey ahead of him, but it doesn’t scare him. He credits his wife, Michelle, for being his rock on a daily basis, and his entire community for their support.
“If my story inspires just one person,” Tony said. “I’m happy.”
You’ve inspired all of us at APEMAN, Tony.