MURRELLS INLET — Thanks to two stone benches, a plaque and a handful of rose bushes on Indigo Club Drive between Canterbury and Riceland courts, residents and anyone else who drives through the Indigo Creek neighborhood will remember its beloved neighborhood watch officer.
The morning of May 26, more than 50 residents of Indigo Creek gathered to see the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the late Horry County Police Cpl. Mike Ambrosino.
Ambrosino died in August of COVID-19, and loved his job of patrolling Indigo Creek, his wife Tracey Ambrosino said. With tears in her eyes, Tracey said the memorial is a blessing during a bad time for her and her two sons.
"I wish that he knew how well he was loved, I mean I'm sure he knew, but I wish he knew," she said, adding that her and her husband were considering moving into the neighborhood before his passing.
Indigo Creek's Home Owners Association President Linda Powell said because it owns the streets in the neighborhoods, it hires police to come and do patrols itself. Ambrosino spent the last eight years in Indigo Creek, Powell said, watching for speeders and rolling his window down to talk to residents daily, so it only felt fitting to honor him on the main road into the neighborhood.
"Everybody knew him, he could stop and talk to them and everyone just respected him so much, he was such a sincere guy," Powell said.
Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill spoke to residents during the unveiling about how happy he is to see support of local law enforcement in the area. He loved hearing stories from residents about their relationship with Ambrosino, he said, and that those relationships are what patrolling is all about.
"Mike was a cop's cop, but he also felt like he needed to be part of the community, and this appreciation and dedication to Mike is emotional ... but it's just a testament to who Mike was and what Mike leaves behind," Hill said.
Indigo Creek resident Dave Leperi had a special relationship with Mike, he said. His son, David Leperi, has always dreamt of being a police officer, and was an honorary police officer in North Carolina when the family lived there. When they moved to South Carolina, though, Dave wondered how he'd keep his son's dream alive.
That is when they met Mike, and he took David, who has Downs Syndrome, on patrol watches with him and invested time in him. Mike didn't have to do that, Dave said, but as a father of a son with special needs himself, Mike just understood, Dave thinks.
"All of us in Indigo Creek certainly remember Mike as a great police officer, no doubt, but more importantly, a respectful, loving, caring person with the biggest heart in the whole wide world," Dave said. "And obviously when you do things like including David in the community, and as a friend, that's the bottom line."