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  1. Opinion

I was a reporter during the Skyway Bridge disaster and I’ll never forget it | Letters

Here’s what readers are saying in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.

The Skyway disaster stays with me

In response to: Detachment gave way to the grim reality | Perspective, May 10

I was a reporter for the Evening Independent in the Clearwater Bureau on that day in 1980 — one day before my 28th birthday. The Summit Venture struck the Skyway right on our deadline, and every reporter in the bureau — myself, Nancy Kalwary, Steve Kaylor, Mark Albright — received specific assignments from downtown to help put that breaking story together. We all went to work. I reached the south tollbooth operator by phone, and a large chunk of that interview went into the lead story. After deadline, I was sent to Tampa, to the temporary morgue where the bodies were coming in. The Indy won a national breaking news award for its coverage. I’ll never forget that day. I had dreams about it for some time afterward. I mark the day every year.

Eric Gerard, Largo

I won’t forget the sight I saw

In response to: Detachment gave way to the grim reality | Perspective, May 10

I will never forget Joe Childs calling me at 7 a.m. that morning — I was the Indy desk photographer — and all he could get out of his mouth was a stuttering, “Something’s happening at the Skyway Bridge, get going.” Well, I got down there and drove right up to the top and parked behind two state police cars. I was the third guy up there. The sight I saw will never leave my memory.

The photo used was probably the first shot I took. I radioed back to Joe at the Indy desk and said, ”The Skyway bridge is gone.” All I could hear was silent shock. A half an hour later I was called back to make Indy deadline.

Richard “Dick” Bell

I don’t want to expose anyone

In response to: I’ll take one for the team | Letters, May 11

Customers come and go from the Publix store at 1075 South Pasadena Avenue, South Pasadena, March 25, 2020. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

My, aren’t you just the selfless one! I am also of the age most at risk should I contract the virus, and, while the symptoms terrify me, l would feel terrible that I had exposed the medical staff, and potentially their families, to the same. We must pay attention to the facts and listen to the scientific experts when making decisions on how best to reopen our society.

Peggy Brogan, Parrish

I may be 86, but I do a lot

In response to: I’ll take one for the team | Letters, May 11

A tutor teaches math in an after-school session in Plant City.

I am a black man approaching 86 years of age. Prior to the pandemic, I tutored disadvantaged children one day a week each at Tampa’s Dream Center and at Belmont Heights Estates. Two other days were spent driving to St. Petersburg to pick up my grandchildren after school and remain with them until their working parents got off. In addition, before and during the pandemic, I tutor a ninth-grader in algebra, a college student in English and humanities, serve as an at-large member of the Friends of the Library of Tampa-Hillsborough County, secretary of the Friends of the C. Blythe Andrews Jr. Public Library, Community Advisory Board member of WEDU and as a board member of both Organize Florida and STEM Xposure.

In other words, I am valuable to my community and should not be required to jump into the volcano to make it rain (stop the coronavirus pandemic).

Howard F. Harris Jr., Tampa

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