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The Skyway bridge collapsed 40 years ago. Here’s how we’re remembering the tragedy.

The Tampa Bay Times is committed to sharing the sights and stories of the past.
An aerial photo from May 9, 1980, shows the freighter Summit Venture after it collided with the Sunshine Skyway bridge. The bridge collapse killed 35 people.
An aerial photo from May 9, 1980, shows the freighter Summit Venture after it collided with the Sunshine Skyway bridge. The bridge collapse killed 35 people.
Published May 8, 2020|Updated May 11, 2020

Saturday marks 40 years since the 19,734-ton Summit Venture freighter slammed into the old Skyway bridge. Six cars, a truck and a Greyhound bus plummeted 150 feet into the choppy waters of Tampa Bay below. Thirty-five died.

The Skyway disaster remains one of the most tragic in Florida history.

40 years after the Skyway bridge disaster, divers can’t forget what they saw underwater

Diver Robert Raiola is still haunted by that stormy morning he and his partner, Michael Betz, spent pulling bodies from the water.

For nearly four decades, their story was untold. Now Raiola wants their grandchildren to know what they saw. Read the story here.

The first Skyway bridge opened 66 years ago. It was a triumph. Then came the tragedy.

Here’s the origin story behind the iconic bridge, from its opening day to the stormy morning of May 9, 1980. Read it here.

What happened to those who made headlines after the Skyway bridge accident?

Read more on the pilot who crashed, the attorney who defended him and some of those who nearly lost their lives 40 years ago.

See historic photos from the Sunshine Skyway bridge disaster

We combed through the Times archives to share jaw-dropping images from the historic day. View the gallery here.

Here’s what readers remember from the day the Skyway bridge fell

The foggy morning of May 9, 1980, left strong memories that have stayed with many readers. Read some of those memories here.

At the scene of the Skyway Bridge collapse, detachment gave way to grim reality

Read a column from Times CEO and chairman Paul Tash, who covered the Skyway Bridge disaster as a 25-year-old reporter. He recalls wondering if what he was seeing through his binoculars was real or an optical illusion.

• • •

The 35 victims of the 1980 Sunshine Skyway Bridge Disaster:

Michael Curtin, 43, of Apollo Beach

Duane Adderly, 21, of Miami

Louis Lucas Jr., 62, of Dolomite, Ala.

Yvonne Johnson, 22, of Perrine

Manesha McGarrah, 7 months, of Tallahassee

Wanda McGarrah, 24, of Tallahassee

Sharon Dixon, 21, of Miami

Myrtle Brown, 58, of St. Johns, Newfoundland

Willis Brown, 57, of St. Johns, Newfoundland

Aubrey Hudson, 62, of St. Johns, Newfoundland

Phyllis Hudson, 58, of St. Johns, Newfoundland

John Carlson, 47, of Pinellas Park

Doris Carlson, 42, of Pinellas Park

Tawana McClendon, 20, of Palmetto

Charles Collins, 40, of Tampa

Leslie Coleman Jr., 52, of St. Petersburg

James Pryor, 42, of Seminole

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John Callaway Jr., 19, of Miami

Horace Lemmons, 47, of Kings Mountain, N.C.

Gerda Hedquist, 92, of Charlotte Harbor

Louise Johnson, 59, of Cataula, Ga.

Melborne Russell, 38, of Chicago, Iill.

Robert Harding, 63, of Glens Falls, N.Y.

Alphonso Blidge, 22, of Miami

Marguerite Mathison, 82, of St. Petersburg

Sandra Davis, 34, of Boardman

Hildred Dietch, 73, of St. Petersburg

Harry Dietch, 68, of St. Petersburg

Lillian Loucks, 69, of Winnipeg, Manitoba

Ann Pondy, 57, of Winnipeg, Manitoba

Brenda Green, 19, of Miami

Delores Smith, 50, of Pennsville, N.J.

Robert Smith, 37, of Pennsville, N.J.

Laverne Daniels, 20, of Miami

Woodrow Triplett, 33, of Bainbridge, Ga.


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