Jarret Romanello, The St. Lucie Post
May 12, 2021
Three years ago, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Captain Charles Scavuzzo died in the line of duty, leaving behind a wife and three children. Devasted by the loss, the Scavuzzo’s lean on one another to overcome their grief as they navigate life after an unthinkable tragedy for a law enforcement family.
On September 15, 2017, Captain Scavuzzo suffered a fatal heart attack during the Hurricane Irma deployment. “It was a very stressful time. He was working around the clock because of the storm and was managing a homicide investigation,” his widow Tonya recalls. The ultimate professional, Charlie, was a fair and firm man with a big heart that loved his family and a life of service to others.
Married for 19 years, Tonya and Charlie raised their children in Fort Pierce as they pursued their careers with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. A seasoned investigator with 28 years of experience, Charlie, affectionally known as “Poncho,” rose through the ranks to become Captain of the Criminal Investigations Division while Tonya worked in the jail as a Corrections Deputy.
Together they raised three children, Sydney, 24; Nicholas, 21; and Lyndsey, 20. “Charlie was a great husband and dad and loved his children deeply,” Tonya recalls.
“There are so many things I miss about him,” says Lyndsey. Only 16 when her dad died, Lyndsey longs for her dad’s reassurance and guidance but is happy that so many of his coworkers have stepped up to offer her life advice.
“The sheriff’s office is our family. They have supported us, and they have mentored my kids,” Tonya adds. Lyndsey finds comfort in the time she spent with her dad as a kid. “My dad instilled a great work ethic in me,” Lyndsey says as she reflects on times, she would volunteer with him on the weekend at PSLAA Football. “He was such a great role model,” Lyndsey said.
Charlie’s oldest daughter Sydney graduated from FSU and is pursuing her master’s degree while working in the St. Lucie County Emergency Operations Center. “My dad was my biggest supporter, he loved watching me compete in gymnastics and cheerleading, and now I honor him by living a life based on the values of integrity and honesty he taught me,” Sydney stated.
On June 5, 2021, Sydney is getting married, and she knows her dad will be there in spirit. “We used to talk about my wedding day and look at dresses all the time,” Sydney remembers. Charlie won’t be there to walk his daughter down the aisle, but his only son, Nick, will. “I’m so proud of the man he’s become. I can’t think of a better man to give Sydney away,” Tonya says.
Nick had to finish his senior year of high school after his father died and prevailed despite tragedy striking at a critical time in his life. “My dad prepared me for everything to come. His honesty has always inspired me, and every move I make, I consider the advice he gave me and the path he would direct me in,” Nick says.
When he was 12, Nick started playing football at PSLAA while his dad coached him. “He was magnetic everyone at the park loved him. His energy and dedication to youth football helped build the program,” Nick stated. Charlie would go on to be the President of the PSLAA and enjoyed positively impacting kids’ lives through youth sports.
Nick wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps of public service and is in the process of joining the US Coast Guard. He put his plans on hold so he could be there for his sister on her wedding day. “Dad taught me always to put family first, and it’s my honor to delay joining the military to be there for my family when my sister gets married,” Nick says.
From Sportsman’s Park to the Sheriff’s Office, St. Lucie County misses Captain Scavuzzo deeply. The impact he made in the community strengthens the Scavuzzo family today.
While a line of duty death shatters most surviving family members’ lives, Tonya Scavuzzo’s focus on her family has helped them overcome the pain. “After Charlie died, I knew it was important to hold my family together and keep the kids straight.”
Police Week honors law enforcement officers that paid the ultimate sacrifice. Family, friends, and coworkers will never forget Captain Charles Scavuzzo because of his work and the kind person he was, but his legacy’s real power will always be what was most important to him – his family.