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|03.05.13: examiner.com, Tampa’s Skyway Bridge haunted by victims of past tragedies|
Drenched in sun and perched above the sparkling water of Tampa
Bay, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge doesn’t look haunted. However, appearances can
be deceiving. Dozens of ghostly tales surround the Tampa landmark which has
been the site of two devastating accidents and over 200 suicides. Do the
victims of these tragedies haunt the bridge today?
The dark history of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge
The original two-lane Skyway first opened in 1954, and officials built an addition in 1971. Aside from a few jumpers, all went well with the Skyway until two traumatic events in 1980.
On January 28, 1980, a buoy tender and a tanker collided while attempting to pass beneath the bridge. The accident killed 23 servicemen. On May 9, 1980, a freighter collided with one of the Skyway’s support columns, sending a portion of the bridge crashing into the bay. Eight vehicles plummeted into the water, including a Greyhound bus full of college students. Thirty five people died in the collapse.
After the two accidents, the original Skyway badly needed replacing, and officials opened the current Skyway in 1987. While there have been no accidents like those in 1980, the Skyway ranks fourth in the nation for number of bridge jumps. To date, over 200 people have leapt from the Skyway which is 197 feet above the water. Some live, most die.
Skyway Bridge hauntings
In the 1960’s and 70’s, motorists regularly phoned authorities to report seeing a young woman preparing to jump from the bridge. However, investigators never found the woman or a body. Another legend involves a beautiful hitchhiker who disappears. The troubled young woman reportedly sobs as the summit of the bridge draws near, causing the concerned driver to turn and console her. However, the woman vanishes before the car reaches the top. Motorists have spotted the hitchhiker on both the old bridge and the new, though no knows who she is. Is she the ghost of a young woman who once jumped from the bridge or merely an urban legend akin to Chicago’s Resurrection Mary?
Legend has it ghostly vehicles also haunt the Skyway Bridge. Parts of the original bridge now serve as piers which are a popular place to fish. According to one story, a group of men were fishing off the southbound pier when they saw an old model Greyhound drive by. The passengers on the bus were staring blankly ahead, except for one woman who smiled and waved. The date was May 9, 1990, the ten-year anniversary of the freighter collision. The sounds of screams and squealing brakes have also been known to shatter the pier’s early-morning silence.
It seems not all of the Skyway’s ghosts remain on the bridge. A paranormal diving team investigated the water under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and spotted “a weird unexplained light phenomenon.” Could the light be related to one, or both, of the 1980 tragedies?
Is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge truly haunted? While the idea might seem preposterous by the light of day, a late night drive across the bridge might just change your mind.
|10.31.10: The Hitchhiker|
One of the most
famous ghosts that has been seen by many people and is mentioned in almost
every collection of area ghost stories is the Blonde hitchhiker of the Skyway
Bridge. Any given night that’s saturated with dense fog or soaked in pouring
rain will lure this saddened siren to the vast span over Tampa Bay. She is
often seen looking longingly off the top or else hitchhiking her way to the
highest point. She will be wearing a white dress and sometimes take on a form
so palpable that drivers will often pick her up thinking she’s a real person.
People have even engaged in conversation with her. The closer they get to the
top of the bridge the more anxious she’ll become until finally disintegrating
in thin air.
“We were headed to a Ray’s game one night. It was pouring down rain and when we reached the top of the Skyway we saw this sad blonde in a white dress looking as if she was going to jump,” said Jason Velez, resident of Bradenton in an interview. “After seeing her, I just knew right away it was the ghost, she fit the profile. Just as we got to the other side, a fire truck flashing lights and sirens was headed up that way. Somebody must have called it in.”
When conditions are desirable, police stations and toll booths will be littered with callers reporting “a sad blonde woman who looks like she may jump”. Some texts claim that she appeared after the Summit tragedy of 1980, but sightings have occurred prior to that. She is thought to be a suicide victim that hitchhiked her way into an infinite purgatory.
“Do you believe in Jesus?” she asked, “Are you ready to die and meet Jesus?” she cried, according to “Jim and Ellen” in the book The Tampa Triangle. Before they could answer -- she was gone.
|10.09.10: Skyway Bridge - a mode of transit for the spirit world?|
Living in the southern edge of the Tampa metro area, north of Bradenton, I often
travel the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay to connect with St.
Petersburg. It’s usually a happy trip, to visit a lovely state park beach.
Crossing the massive fifteen mile bridge, from one hundred fifty feet above the
shipping channel, the views are spectacular. Somewhere near the top though, I
usually get a brief chill, thinking about the history of the bridge.
The Skyway completed in 1971, met with horrible disaster in 1980. In the early morning of May 9th, just after a heavy thunderstorm, an empty freighter ran into the southern pier. The collision ripped over 1,000 feet of bridge and road from its suspensions. Thirty-five people were killed, mainly from a southbound bus headed to Miami. After seven years of repair, costing $245 million, the Skyway again operated, but those deaths haunted the structure and continue today.
Early-morning fishermen have reported sounds of car horns and screeching tires, followed by a loud crash. Descending screams that stop with the sound of a splash in the waters below have prompted calls to authorities. Some even claimed to have seen a phantom bus, plunging through fog with dim headlights and terrified faces of those who died. The oddest sighting – the ghost of an elderly woman at the rear of the bus, looking directly at the witness with a wide grin, waving as the bus plunged downward.
Strangely, the actual Greyhound bus which crashed was salvaged for parts in south Florida. Some have claimed the reused parts have done everything from bursting into flames to causing other machinery to cease operation. So many problems ensued, all the salvaged parts were removed and disposed of.
Another ghostly legend associated with the Skyway Bridge involves a hitchhiker, a young specter, in her early twenties, with long blond hair and wearing a white sweater or T-shirt. Her sad demeanor compelled many to stop and give her a lift. Many local truckers have picked up this lost soul near the bottom of the bridge. Upon reaching the top, she became frantic, asking questions like, “Will Jesus forgive me?” Then, she vanished when the driver reached the other side. A suicide case? A murder victim? No one knows.
Paranormal investigators have studied the Skyway Bridge, looking for clues to explain why there have been so many sightings. Many hold that certain elements in the mineral-rich rock of the suspensions attract spirits. Some think this is also the reason so many European and UK castles are haunted; the stone of their structures contains a variety of crystals. Others hold to the adage: running water keeps a ghost bound behind it, and a solid object is the only way for that ghost to cross. Is Tampa’s Skyway Bridge a mode of transit for the spirit world? - by Marsha A. Moore
|05.08.07: The Haunted Skyway Bridge in Florida, by Pen|
The Skyway bridge, a beautiful sight in itself. From the top you
can see countless miles of open water, and experience the peace, that nature
has to offer. It is unfortunate the bridge is also associated with suicidal
jumpers. Throughout the years several people have taken their life by jumping
from the Skyway bridge. Is it possible some they never left the place, where
they chose to leave it all behind? Fishermen of the Skyway pier tell countless
stories of seeing "ghost". What is now the Skyway pier used to be the old
Skyway Bridge where the stories of the jumper, and the hitchhiker will live
Throughout the 1960's and 1970's scores of motorists using the Sunshine Skyway Bridge claimed to see a young blonde lady dressed in a tight T-shirt in an off-white or tan outfit poised to jump off of one of the main spans. She was reported during both day and night, many times when the structures were shrouded in fog. When Sheriff's Deputies would investigate, no trace of the young lady could be found, either at the top of the bridge, or in the waters below. By the end of the 1970's reports of a lady of similar appearance filtered in to toll collectors and local Sheriff's Deputies, only this time she was hitchhiking. Several motorists would pick her up.
She explained in a nervous tone that she had to get to the other side of the bridge. She would become more notably agitated the closer to the top of the bridge that the motorists went. When the drivers of the cars would turn around to reassure her that everything was all right she had simply vanished. These incidents involved many out of state drivers not familiar with these stories! Once the old southbound Skyway span was destroyed in May 1980 by the freighter "Summit Venture", the spectral Skyway lady was never seen again. Was she the spirit of a young lady who unbeknownst to others jumped to her death from the Skyway in the 1960's, or was she a harbinger of the death and terror that would occur on the old south span on that fateful May day in 1980?
Another legend or haunting of the Skyway involves a Greyhound bus and it's 22 passengers. Now known as the "ghost bus". On the morning of May 9, 1980, a storm born in Texas several days earlier slammed into the Tampa Bay area, pelting it with heavy rains and winds. At 6:20 A.M. that morning, Harbor Pilot John Lerro climbed the pilot's ladder in order to navigate the empty 606' long phosphate freighter, the "Summit Venture" from the mouth of Tampa Bay to port of Tampa. As the ship continued to head east in the channel not far from Egmont Key, visibility became near zero.
The storm became so intense that Lerro lost his bearings by 800' and the result was that the bow of the ship struck the southbound span's support pier at 7:34 A.M., resulting in a horrendous collapse of the main span. Six automobiles, one pick up truck, and one Greyhound bus bound for Miami plummeted almost 200' down at an estimated speed of 67 miles per hour into the waters of Tampa Bay-only one person survived-the pick up truck landed first onto the ship itself, then into the Bay-the driver of the pick up truck was recovered from the water, hospitalized and later released.
All in all 35 people died that morning. The Greyhound bus, a 1975 MC-B Crusader, had one driver and 22 passengers onboard. The bus was sheared by the impact so severely that the entire top 2/3rds of it was shorn off "like a pop top". More then 20 people have reported seeing the shadow image of a Greyhound driving down what is now the fishing pier, as if on the main road. The driver has the looking straight ahead, with both hands on the wheel, as if nothing was wrong. Some say a lady wearing black is looking out the back of the bus, smiling, and waving at those who are staring. The the bus the just disappears off the end of the pier. Others say every now, and then you can feel a strong breeze, and smell gas, as if a bus just drove past you.
Does the stories just make for good fisherman tales, perhaps they are just stories. It makes for a good spooky tale whether you believe it or not. The Sunshine Skyway bridge connects Tampa / St. Petersburg to Sarasota. The Skyway pier is great for night fishing, so grab a pole, and let me know if you see any ghost.
|urbanlegendsofflorida.homestead.com, Ghostly Jumpers, Vanishing Hitchhikers|
The story: The Sunshine Skyway bridge was originally opened in 1954 to connect Pinellas with Manatee county. The tallest bridge in the area, it already gained a reputation for attracting suicdes. A few years after it was opened, a woman jumped into the murky depths of the bay below. Some believe that the span was cursed as several Native American (now an extinct tribe) middens (shell mounds) were, reputedly, destroyed in creating the span. Parts of the roadway leading to the bridge were built on top of the mounds' former resting places.
After that time, rumors began to circulate of a vanishing hitchhiker. Stories circulated of people who saw a beautiful blonde woman hitchhiking near the mid-span. When they stopped to pick her up, nothing seemed out of the ordinary -- she had a physical tangible presence in the car -- but as the vehicle approached the summit of the bridge, she would begin to cry. When the driver turned to ask what was wrong they'd find themselves alone in the vehicle. One account, possibly the orignal story, comes from The Tampa Bay Triangle (by Captain Bill Miller). This book cites a specific story of a couple who, in the 1960s, had just such an encounter.
(Brandy notes: Interviews with toll takers on the bridge were aired on the radio; toll collectors claimed that many people had the same experience).
Things get interesting because the original Sunshine Skyway bridge was hit by a freighter May 9, 1980. The central span collapsed causing the death of 36 people travelling across it at the time. The most tragic aspect is that a Grayhound bus with college students going home for the summer was one of the vehicles that fell into the water below. All on the bus were killed. Of those trapped in their vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed, only 1 person survived when their car hit the boat lodged underneath, then fell into the bay. At this time, the old span was destroyed and the current span built (with the famouse yellow "sails" that some say the aliens use to "call home"). Remnants of the old bridge were left to serve as two fishing piers (one stretching from the northbound span, the other from the southbound). The new bridge and those remnants have additional stories:
The hitchhiker isn't done yet. She has, apparently, moved to the new bridge. Stories have changed her hair color to that of a brunette. It's hard to determine if this is an urban legend or not, as the new span, being taller than the old one, has had a plethora of suicides. The bridge has added phones along the top of the span for potential suicides to call for help, or for passing motorists to phone in activity. (Brandy: As of 6 months ago, I have a friend of a classmate who jumped. It is an active site).
The fishing piers are said to be haunted. The Tampa Bay Triangle sites two fishers who were on the pier early in the morning of May 10, 1990. At the time of the original span's destruction, the two men felt an eerie presence. One man saw the a spectral bus, all people sitting bolt forward with looks of terror on their faces. The bus passed them by; the astounded witness saw one person in the back of the bus turn around and wave at him, smiling.
The fishing pier also links to another legend: the Flirty Fisherman. (We'll be checking that story soon).
There is an additional rumor relating to the bus. Apparently, once fished out of the bay, Grayhound used the bus parts that they could salvage in other buses. Any bus that had one of these parts in it allegedly burst into flames. This sounds remarkably like the story of the remains of Flight 401, another transportation tragedy in Florida. A plane crash landed in the Everglades, killing all on it. The salvaged parts were used in other planes and apparently brought along the ghost of one of the crew members, who only appeared during times of crisis.
comments from the article:
I am a witness to the hitchhiker. I have seen her several times - every time she is jogging along the causeway. Except for one time, when I was at the top of the bridge in 1998. I was looking down into the water when the hitchhiker jogged right past me, said "don't do it" and then went on her way down the slope, disappearing from view. She is a fairly tall, slender girl with blonde hair down to her shoulders. She was wearing a hooded shirt that night. I didn't know she was a spirit until that night. I saw her several times jogging along the causeway after that, but it's been a few years since I've seen her. I really don't travel that way, not since 2002. Regards, Judy
My spirit adventure could not really be classified as a true adventure with “spirits” as I was traveling in a van with 9 other people, on a terrible cold and windy night, shortly after the accident at the bridge. It was creepy to begin with, and as we came to a halt at the top of the bridge span (due to a traffic problem) I could look over and see the mess of the bridge span that had collapsed. I felt a hovering presence there…..I have had that before under similar disaster circumstances – and could not shake the sense of “presence” and doom. It was horrible, and wrecked what might have been a fun evening! -- GR.
there are a few paranormal bridge investigations described on the website.
psiresearcher.wordpress.com, Paranormal/Psychical Research and Folklore
greatest-unsolved-mysteries.com, The Haunted Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
|comments - tell your paranormal skyway story|
09.10.16, Barbara H., facebook,
I did my term paper 16 years ago in forensics on Skyway jumpers. I got an A+ on it and my instructor Tim W. remarked on my paper that he printed the dead bodies from the
Coast Guard Cutter that went down there. On a stranger note, I think I saw two ghost out there while I was shell collecting one morning. I really don't believe in that kind of thing but I don't know what else it could have been. It was an elderly couple and they did not look ghostly at all but the place where I saw them there would have been no way that they would have gotten there without me seeing them and I spoke to them and look down for a minute and when I looked back up they were gone and there is no way they could have left that area that quick without me seeing them. I searched for them through the archives of the St Petersburg Times hoping when
the Skyway fell that their pictures may have been in the paper and have even Googled all the last names of the couples that died during that event but haven't really gotten anywhere with it. I enjoy your website and your clever sense of humor. Best regards, Barbara
(thanks for your story and compliment. we have not seen
any pictures of those that died in the disaster. if you eventually find anything
of interest, please let us know.)
08.23.16, Brigette, Miami Beach, FL., (about the 08.20.16 jump incident), I was driving across the bridge to Tampa. As soon as I saw 4 police cars on Northbound lane, top of bridge, I knew what had happened. It's a suicide bridge. There was also 2 police vehicles, top of bridge South Bound side, and Coast guard and another vessel in the water below. What I NEVER KNEW BEFORE was that there is a Vortex running through the center of the bridge, which is why everyone jumps from the top. People are pulled to the location. It's an energy force, from the dark spirits communicating with those that have weak channels. For people reading this that have no knowledge of How spirits work, or communicating with those not in earth form, this may all sound cooky. It's sounds cooky to those of us with special gifts. My cat, yes, of course, was traveling with me, he had a harness on when we left Miami, no problem. As soon as we ascended up the bridge, the kitty started strangling himself with the harness, he had his jaw underneath the front strap and was trying to push his head down. I immediately started trying to undo the clip to remove the harness, all while driving, very aware of the flashing police lights ahead. i popped off the harness. The kitty had NEVER done this before, nor after, which is how I recognized the vortex. (He has had the harness on several times since, no problems.) Animals are pure spirits and communicate very easily with spirit form. These bastards (of darkness) are VERY manipulative. evil demons that pull people to the bridge. A weak soul is very vulnerable to it. Centuries ago, my grandmother told the story of the girl in the back of the car, a ghost, only when you go over the bridge. I never saw her. I know now, she was trying to ask for help, to warn people... This Vortex needs to be closed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (thank you for your story. it is not the first, when it comes to paranormal incidents on the bridge or animals tuned in on what humans can not perceive. we're glad your journey came to a safe conclusion.)
12.17.14, Braiden E., tampa, fl., I am now 21 but when I was 7 years old I saw a ghost of a blonde haired lady on the skyway. It was pouring rain and my dad was surprised the bridge wasn't closed down due to weather. so we drove over the bridge and when we was almost to the top I saw her. She was on the edge of the bridge and all I could see was her jump but as she jumped her body sort of misted away with the rain. I was freaking out and crying. My dad didn't see it and didn't believe me. I didn't even know any of the stories of the skyway until 2 years ago when I told my friend my story and she told me theres loads of suicides and deaths on the skyway. To this day it im scared to cross the skyway.
09.03.13, Cj, Saint Petersburg, Fl., I heard that if you drive over the skyway bridge at 3AM during a full moon you can see a women standing on the broken part of the old skyway bridge, this women is looking down into the water and she is crying loudly, saying in between sobs, MY BABY! MY BABY !! Then she just vanishes, supposedly years back when the broken part of the old skyway was still there a stpete police officer saw her pulled over thinking she was a jumper trying to commit suicide and he told her mam its ok, dont jump just please step away from the edge and come over here to me, she turned and looked at him once, then screaming MY BABY IS IN THE WATER!! She then vanished, the cop thought she had jumped except he didnt hear a splash at all and when he walked to the edge and looked down there where no water ripples at all the water looked like glass, not moving at all, the cop even called it in supposedly, thats the only ghost story about the bridge that I have ever heard.
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