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skyway bridge accidents
updated: 09.24.14

accidents occur on and around the skyway bridge, before 2000.
the 05.09.80 collapse • accidents after 2000 • incidents • articles

links could be broken at any time. (our comments follow)
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12.31.98: man drives off the end of the old skyway bridge fishing pier and dies.
William Dusty Sallee, 38
01.08.99, © St. Petersburg Times, By LEANORA MINAI, Tollkeeper's plunge ruled accident.
While the associate medical examiner agrees that the fatal crash on the Skyway fishing pier was odd, he says he has no evidence of suicide. 
The death of William Dusty Sallee, the pier toll operator who drove off the South Skyway Fishing Pier into Tampa Bay, has been ruled an accident by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office. 
Without a suicide note or witness who heard Sallee threaten to kill himself, there is no evidence that Sallee intended to take his life, said Dr. Russell Vega, the associate medical examiner who performed the autopsy. 
"My point of view here is that without pretty strong evidence that a traffic crash is a suicide, we're going to call it an accident," Vega said.
Sallee suffered trauma to the chest and abdomen when his speeding GMC Jimmy hit a Honda Accord at the end of the pier. He crashed through a foot-thick concrete wall and plunged 15 feet into the water.
"He primarily drowned," Vega said. 
Toxicology tests to determine whether Sallee had alcohol or drugs in his system will be ready today. 
Fishermen said Sallee, 38, was jittery and complained of stomach problems when they paid their entrance tolls. 
"I know he had a few beers the day before, but not that day," said Greg McElwaney, 40, his roommate in Tampa. 
Sallee had just finished his midnight to 8 a.m. shift Dec. 31 when he climbed into his truck and drove down the pier. 
Witnesses said Sallee was driving 70 mph and staring straight ahead before he reached the end of the pier. 
The Florida Highway Patrol has not finished its investigation. 
"The story that I had at the time was that he collided with a car, which caused his car to go off the pier," said Vega, the medical examiner. "I didn't hear a story that he turned his car to intentionally head off a pier." 
However, Vega said, the crash is odd. 
"I would admit to you that you have to wonder why somebody would be driving like that, and I don't have a good explanation," he said. "He might have been thinking about something. Maybe he does have some substances in his body causing him to act irrationally." 
McElwaney, Sallee's roommate, said he thinks Sallee suffered a stroke. 
"He had every intention of coming home that morning," said McElwaney, who knew Sallee for six years. 
The medical examiner said strokes do not show up in an autopsy, and other than signs of some heart disease, Sallee did not appear chronically ill. 
McElwaney and Sallee's family plan to spread Sallee's cremated remains over a forest. 
"It's hard," McElwaney said, "because I have to walk through the same doors he did every day." 
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12.27.96: 54 vehicle pile-up on skyway kills one female.
Jane Stumpf, 69
12.28.96: full article


01.01.97: new policy. full article

12.26.97: full articles
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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.)
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04.29.87: trawler rams skyway.
full article


full extensive article

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02.07.87: woman drowns after driving off bridge approach.
Linda Robillard, 35
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05.09.86: accidental skyway death.
Charles Bailey, 40

 

05.10.86: full two articles


05.13.86: full article

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08.23.85: man killed in fiery auto crash on bridge.
Kenneth James Ervin
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12.28.84
Barry Bradford, 28
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11.08.84: barge hits bridge. full article
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10.31.84: skyway worker drowns.
Delray Morris, 25
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07.30.84: man jumps from bridge when crane collapses, lives
David Schwandner
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11.28.83: skyway construction worker killed.
Mac Warren Ridings, 51
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08.08.83: man killed in head-on auto crash.
Clarence P. Peterson, 41
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07.13.83: head-on crash kills man.
Gerald Kavanagh, 50
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02.14.83: barge hits bridge.
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11.12.82: barge hits bridge.
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11.09.82: full article
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11.09.82: barge hits bridge.
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02.28.82
Eva Gassie, 63
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02.20.82: faller, male
Edward F. Thornton Jr., 17

 
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01.01.81
Hol Yol Choe, 5
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.
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05.09.80: ship knocks the skyway down. 35 die. articles here.
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02.16.80: boat hits bridge.

 

 
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02.06.80: ship hits bridge.
full article

 

 
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01.28.80: ship 'capricorn' collides with the coast guard tender 'blackthorn' near skyway, 23 die.
extensive 64 page article about the accident. 7mb  pdf file
google.com: more.
divespots.com: scuba dive the Blackthorn.

 

02.20.80: full article
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12.22.79
George A. Jackson, 76
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10.06.79: man crashes car on bridge and plunges off, dies.
Qays Al-Thaqeb, 18
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05.02.78: almost accident.

05.13.80: full article detailing this 05.02.78 almost accident.
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05.19.77: boat crashes into skyway. full article
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10.15.76: two injured in three car crash.
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05.26.76: boat hits bridge.
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09.22.74: boat hits bridge.
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08.20.73: barge hits bridge.
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08.31.70: ship hits bridge. full article
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06.28.70: auto accident. full article
Amelia Biasi, 57
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11.20.69: two accidents injure six.
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11.09.68: auto accident kills 5.
Tommy Lee Harris, 20
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05.20.67: auto accident kills 3, injures 3 others.
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04.07.64: man killed while fishing.
Ernest Cleveland Porter, 68
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02.19.63: car blown off skyway. full article
Carl Bohman, 53, dies and wife Irene Bohman, 52, survives.
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the 05.09.80 collapse • accidents after 2000 • incidents • articles
 

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