CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The coroner’s office says the body of a missing tow truck driver has been found Thursday afternoon.
Berkeley County Coroner George Oliver said the body of 45-year-old William Ellis of North Charleston was found in the harbor near Daniel Island at 1:44 p.m.
Crews had been searching the area of the Don Holt Bridge for Ellis who they believed had fallen over the bridge after he was struck in an accident on Wednesday.
The Highway Patrol says Ellis drove to the bridge just before 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning to help a stranded driver. A Charleston County deputy also stopped to help out.
Troopers say a pickup truck then slammed into the deputy’s car, seriously injuring the deputy. Authorities said they believed Ellis went over the bridge and into the water.
The injured deputy, Michael Constanzo is still in the hospital. The Highway Patrol says the accident is under investigation.
Ellis’ family released the following statement:
As they are grieving and devastated by their loss, Will Ellis’s family wants to express their heartfelt thanks to all of the men and women involved in the search effort.
The family wants the community to know that Will was a devoted father and grandfather who loved his family and people of all walks of life. He was an outgoing, loving and caring soul who worked hard as an entrepreneur in a wide range of businesses.
In addition to owning his roadside assistance business, he had owned several Thai restaurants throughout the state, and was an entertainment promoter and manager. According to his daughter, Will was fond of saying , “if there’s a Will, there’s a way!”
Will was known for his great sense of humor, he loved debating and would help anyone in their time of need, as he was doing yesterday. He will be deeply missed.
Earlier on Thursday before Ellis was found, fellow tow truck drivers, some who know Ellis, got together to show support for his family.
“By far I would say yesterday was tragic,” said Will Blunt who has known Ellis for some time. “But as everybody would say it could happen to any one of us. And we really want to take this moment to say we really are sorry for Will and his family, and if there’s anything we can do, we want to reach out.”
Marine patrols from multiple agencies had been searching for Ellis in the waterways around the Don Holt Bridge Thursday before he was found this afternoon.
The crash happened at 9:51 a.m. on Wednesday in the westbound lanes of the Don Holt Bridge. A tow truck had arrived at the scene to assist the driver of a disabled vehicle. A Charleston County Sheriff’s deputy, Michael Costanzo, stopped to assist as well.
South Carolina Highway Patrol Cpl. Matt Southern said a Ford F-350 truck pulling a trailer then struck the rear of the deputy’s Dodge Charger, which in turn struck other vehicles and the responding deputy and the tow truck driver who were outside of their vehicles.
Costanzo was critically injured, Charleston County Sheriff’s Capt. Roger Antonio said.