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The Sunshine Skyway Bridge Disaster: Tragedy Over Tampa Bay

Credit: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg Times) 1980
Richard Hornbuckle escaped near certain death when his car skidded to a top just 14 inches from the edge.
It’s been nearly 35 years since the Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapse. On Florida Matters (Tuesday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 10 at 7:30 a.m.), we take a look back at the disaster. What do you remember about that day? We're asking our listeners to share their memories with us in the comments below. 

It was Friday, May 9, 1980  -- at 7:33 am -- when the freighter Summit Venture rammed into the Sunshine Skyway Bridge during a severe storm.  

The bridge's support pier was no match for the 20,000-ton ship.  The pier was destroyed and the roadway above crashed into the waters of Tampa Bay.

Though the blinding rain, drivers in the southbound lanes were unable to see the missing roadway ahead.  Six cars, a truck, and a Greyhound Bus plunged into the waters below.  One man survived.  35 others were killed.

- Read the St. Petersburg Times next-day account of the accident
- Visit a Skyway Bridge Memorial
- The Skyway's Lone Survivor
- Get to know the NEW Sunshine Skyway Bridge
- FLORIDA MATTERS: Jumping Off the Skyway Bridge -- and Surviving

Carson Cooper has become a favorite of WUSF listeners as the host of "Morning Edition" on WUSF 89.7 since he took the job in 2000. Carson has worked in Tampa Bay radio for three decades.
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