Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay’s Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down
May 9, 1980 remains the darkest day in Tampa Bay history. At 7:33 a.m., a 20,000-ton freighter, caught in a sudden, violent thunder squall, was blown off course as it began passing under the twin spans of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The ship’s bow snapped one of the concrete pier supports, and nearly 1,300 feet of roadway and steel girders toppled and fell into Tampa Bay, 150 feet below. Seven cars and a passenger bus flew from the jagged break at the peak of the bridge, and dropped. Thirty-five people lost their lives.
This book tells the complete story of that awful morning, from the random series of events that led to it, through the years of recrimination, regret – and rebuilding – that followed. It’s also a biography of John Lerro, the harbor pilot at the helm of M/V Summit Venture. Even though he was exonerated by the courts, for the rest of his life Lerro blamed himself for the collision.
Exhaustively researched, Skyway is a history book, a human tragedy – and a cautionary tale.
It’s hard to elicit raw terror in book form, especially in the opening pages. That’s why well-crafted nonfiction, such as Bill DeYoung’s Skyway, can induce frights greater than most horror novels.
Vince Dacangelo, Ensuing Chapters
Bill DeYoung’s meticulous reconstruction of how Florida’s mightiest bridge was built and then destroyed is a compelling read, full of telling details and tragic irony.
Craig Pittman, author of The State You’re In
Published by University Press of Florida
Available in softcover second edition, Kindle edition, and audio book from Tantor Media