1980 Sunshine Skyway Bridge tragedy

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is an icon of the Tampa Bay area, but many new arrivals to Florida may be unaware of the tragedy that befell the span's predecessor.

It was on May 9, 1980 when the unthinkable happened: The freighter M/V Summit Venture collided with a support column during a blinding thunderstorm, knocking a 1,200-foot section of the roadway into the water below.

Six cars, a truck, and a bus plunged 150 feet into Tampa Bay, killing 35 people.

WTVT's crews covered the tragedy for hours from the land, the air, and even from the water -- a rare event in the days of limited news-gathering technology.

This video is our only surviving footage of the disaster.


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The current bridge opened in 1987 and has become an symbol for the Tampa Bay area. Portions of the old span remain, though, in the form of the fishing piers at each end of the 'new' bridge.