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Skyway Bridge Memorial Will Be Unveiled Saturday

May 8, 2015

The Summit Venture collided with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay during a storm, making a 1,400-foot section of the southbound span collapse. Thirty-five people in six cars, a pickup truck and a Greyhound bus fell 150 feet into the water and died. A new bridge was opened in 1987, with the approaches for the original bridge eventually becoming the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, the longest fishing pier in the world.
Credit State Archives of Florida

May 9 marks the 35th anniversary of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge accident that killed 35 people.

A memorial for the victims will be unveiled Saturday at 11 a.m. at Blackthorn Memorial Park in St. Petersburg.

Bill DeYoung of St. Petersburg , who wrote a book about the Skyway disaster, is behind the effort to build a memorial.

"We did a fundraising campaign and raised all the money in about a month, from the community. The state didn't pay for anything, I should say, and the whole cost was about $10,000,” he said.

The 6-foot, polished-granite monument features a bronze plaque that includes all 35 names and a brief description of what happened.

DeYoung said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman will be at the dedication, along with family members of some of the victims.

"It's located in the same place where the fishing piers are, which is where the old bridge was,” DeYoung said.

“There's a little rest area there, and a little picnic spot, and we put it a little bit south to the tree line, almost facing the bridge. It's framed on either side by Mullet Key and Egmont Key, and the shipping channel is just behind it."

The accident happened at 7:33 a.m. on May 9, 1980, when the freighter Summit Venture hit the bridge. Part of the roadway collapsed and several cars and a Greyhound bus fell into the waters of Tampa Bay.

You can hear more about the Skyway bridge disaster on Florida Matters Sunday, May 10 at 7:30 a.m.