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skyway bridge accidents

accidents occur on and around the skyway bridge.
updated: 01.29.15

links could be broken at any time. (our comments follow)
03.28.07: almost accident.
03.28.07,, Skyway scare sends shudders
ST. PETERSBURG - Tobias Rose was navigating a 378-foot freighter filled with more than 10,000 metric tons of phosphate and heading toward the Sunshine Skyway bridge Wednesday when the ship's power and steering suddenly failed.
At that moment, the Antilles II was roughly 2,000 yards from the Skyway, where 35 people died in 1980 after a 608-foot ship rammed it.
So Rose decided to run the ship aground rather than let it veer toward the Skyway, said Allen Thompson, executive director of the Tampa Bay Pilots Association, who spoke to Rose after the incident early Wednesday. Harbor pilots guide about 5,000 large ships in and out of the Tampa port each year.
The Florida Highway Patrol closed the bridge to cars and trucks early Wednesday as a precaution, backing up traffic for miles. It reopened it in less than two hours.
"The key thing was that he realized some evasive action was necessary," Thompson said. "I think he felt the only action was put the vessel aground or risk a worst-case scenario."
But another worst-case Skyway tragedy seems unlikely, officials say.
After the May 1980 Skyway accident, a new bridge was built, designed to try to make sure the tragedy could not happen again.
So was the bridge in danger of collapsing again on Wednesday?
"The answer to that is that we have a system of protections in place to prevent" such a disaster, said Pepe Garcia, a structures and facilities engineer with the state Department of Transportation.
Garcia pointed to two key features:
- Giant concrete and wood disks called "dolphins" placed around bridge supports. These are supposed to act like bumpers, preventing ships from reaching the supports.
- Islands of rocks built around the biggest bridge supports in the channel. These are designed to make a ship run into the rocks before it could strike the supports.
Garcia said it's still good news the ship did not hit either of these features, because they could have damaged the ship and harmed the protective features themselves.
"I'm glad that no one got hurt as far as I understand," Garcia said. "No one in the ship or anywhere."
A Coast Guard investigation is continuing.
Something was up
Among early morning anglers on the two Skyway fishing piers, the incident went almost unnoticed.
Shaun Martinez of Tampa spent most of the night on the north pier. He said he saw a lot of police activity but had no idea what it was about.
"There were police lights along the bridge as far as I could see, and helicopters in the air with spotlights, and I knew something was going on, but I couldn't tell what it was," Martinez said.
Robert Abbenauer of Boston, who was fishing on the south Skyway pier, said he noticed lights near the shipping channel.
"I thought they might be a ship. But they weren't moving, so I couldn't be sure until daybreak, when it was pretty obvious," Abbenauer said.
It wasn't clear Wednesday how Rose was able to maneuver the ship when the steering was malfunctioning. He could not be reached.
But after the incident, the hull of the Antilles II came to rest in the sandy bottom south of Tampa Bay's shipping channel, about 400 yards east of the Skyway.
With the U.S. Coast Guard supervising and an assist from a high tide, workers on three tugs yanked the ship loose about noon, and tugged it to Port Manatee for an inspection. The Panamanian ship, which has a draft of 27 feet, was carrying 10,000 metric tons of phosphate and 78 metric tons of fuel to power the ship.
The incident stopped ship traffic in and out of the Port of Tampa and Port Manatee and delayed about 10 vessels.
Workers using a new system that tracks ship movements in Tampa Bay saw the Antilles II was heading aground early Wednesday and called the Coast Guard.
The system, called the Cooperative Vessel Traffic Service, monitors ships in much the same way that air traffic controllers monitor airplane flights.
-- Times staff writers Jean Heller and Steve Huettel contributed to this report.
Length of freighter: 378 feet
Draft: 27 feet
Cargo: 10,000 metric tons of phosphate
Fuel: 78 metric tons
Location: 400 yards east of Sunshine Skyway
Skyway auto traffic closed: 1 hour, 40 minutes

full article
09.20.03: two men drown near skyway.
02.28.88: first responder accidently falls from bridge during accident service call.
Daniel Smith
03.12.12, Daniel Smith, Red Boiling Springs, Tn., I fell off of the bridge on 2-28-88 at approx 3:30 am. while attending to the victims of a terrible crash. At the time I was a fireman for Venice, Fl. I fell near where the cables attach to the bridge on the north side. I thought I only fell about 70 ft but later found that it could have been around 150 ft. I have been the butt of many jokes because I am told it was a "leap year", but several lives were taken by that crash and I will always wonder if I could have done more to help them. Thanks, Dan Smith (retired Lt. Venice Fire Dept) (accidents can and do happen to those responding to accidents. you were indeed lucky to have survived the fall. try to not beat yourself up by thinking you could have done more. you responded, you tried. as for being "the butt of many jokes", consider that they were no doubt brought on by guys that liked you, because that's what guys do. thank you for sharing your story. we checked for a news article, but found nothing.)
04.29.87: trawler rams skyway.
full article

full article

07.14.86: full article
05.09.86: accidental skyway death.
Charles Bailey, 40
05.10.86: full two articles

05.13.86: full article

10.18.85: full article
01.21.85: full article
12.28.84: full article
Barry Bradford, 28
11.08.84: barge hits bridge.
11.08.84: full article

11.09.84: full article

06.21.85: full article
10.31.84: full article
Delray Morris, 25
07.30.84: accidental jumper, male, lives
David Schwandner
07.31.84: full article

08.03.84: full article

09.27.84: full article

Mac Warren Ridings, 51
11.29.83: full article

11.29.83: full article
02.13.83: barge hits bridge. full article
11.12.82: full article
11.09.82: full article
11.09.82: full article
02.20.82: faller, male
Edward F. Thornton Jr., 17
02.20.82: full article

02.21.82: full article

02.22.82: full article

Hyo Yol Choe, 5
01.02.81: full article

09.23.87: full article
05.10.13, Bill, Houston, TX., A little boy who was hit and killed in Jan '81.
In January 1981 (I was 10), a 5 yr old Korean boy (last name Cho) was struck by a car on the southbound lane/fishing pier. He was running between guardrails with a bait bucket when I heard brakes screech and his father scream. I did not see the impact. As he lay on the roadway, my dad tried to administer CPR. Cho's lips turned blue, and I kept asking if he was going to be alright, but I know he wouldn't. After nearly 30 minutes, an ambulance took him away. He lived on the next block over from me. I played with him a few times. If anyone ever sees a young boy on the south fishing pier, you know who he is and how he got there. Rest in peace my long, lost friend.
05.09.80: ship collision collapses the skyway. 35 die. disaster website
02.16.80: boat hits bridge.
02.16.80: full article

02.18.80: full article

02.19.80: full opinion article
02.06.80: ship hits bridge.
02.07.80: full article

02.07.80: full article

02.08.80: full article

03.18.80: full article

01.28.80: ship 'capricorn' collides with the coast guard tender 'blackthorn' near skyway, 23 die.
01.30.80:  st. petersburg times full page articles: front page page 7 page 16

01.30.80: full article

02.08.80: full article

02.20.80: full article

02.20.80: full article

02.21.80: full article

01.25.81: full article

01.28.15,, Ceremony Remembers Those Lost in Coast Guard Disaster,
It still stands as the U.S. Coast Guard's worst peacetime disaster. And 35 years later survivors, family members and supporters still gather near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge each year to remember the sinking of the Blackthorn.
On Wednesday morning, a memorial service was held to remember the 23 crew members who lost their lives when the Blackthorn sank near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The ship sank when it collided with a tanker, the Capricorn.
Members of the Clearwater Coast Guard Air Station performed an aerial flyover salute under bright blue skies and in a cool stiff January wind as the ship's bell rang one time for each of the lives lost.
Master Chief Petty Officer Steven Cantrell read the names of those who died that night, to the sound of 23 sharp, clear strikes of a bell.
Steve Coleman is now a high school science teacher in Georgia. But he was a 21-year-old seaman apprentice that night and he says rarely does a day go by when he doesn't think about that night.
"All of the details of the night of January 28th are especially clear in my memory and I've shared the story with hundreds and hundreds of people," said Coleman.
Following the reading of the names, numerous wreaths were placed at the site of the marker bearing the names of the victims.
A Coast Guard helicopter hovered just off the coast, dropping a wreath into the Gulf waters and bagpipers played amazing grace.
"I have a tendency to tear up and get choked up at this ceremony and today will be no exception," said Coleman.


extensive 64 page article about the accident. 7mb  pdf file
05.02.78: almost accident.
full article

05.13.80: full article detailing this 05.02.78 almost accident.
05.19.77: full article
09.06.76: full article
05.26.76: full article
09.22.74: boat hits bridge.
08.20.73: full article
01.17.72: full article
08.31.70: full article

04.07.64: man killed while fishing. full article
Ernest Cleveland Porter, 68
02.22.59: full article
Sadie Belle Wahl, 68
04.04.58: full article
William Ashton Julia Jr., 8
12.21.56: full article

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