TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — Monday marks 42 years since the Sunshine Skyway Bridge disaster in the Tampa Bay area.
Former 8 On Your Side Anchor Bob Hite was listening to the radio on his way to work the morning of May 9, 1980 when he heard the devastating news of the Sunshine Skyway collapse.
As Hite drove towards the news station, the first fatality was announced. He never imagined it would be the name of his dear friend and neighbor.
“I lost a very very good friend, Mike Curtain, who lived down the street from me. I knew he worked for Greyhound, but I didn’t know he was a bus driver,” Hite said.
Curtain, 42, died in the collapse along with 25 bus passengers. Nine other victims died in separate vehicles.
Hite covered the tragedy and remembers watching crews pull victims from the bay.
“Those gentlemen diving back and forth to the bus bringing out the victims, I had an immediate response to help and sadly to recover. I remember that it sticks in my mind,” Hite shared.
Those victims fell 150 feet into the water below. Only one person survived – a man named Wesley MacIntire. His truck fell onto the freighter’s deck before hitting the water below.
“When the Skyway Bridge went down, the whole community was equally shaken by that and couldn’t believe it could’ve happened,” Hite said.
There is a Sunshine Skyway Collapse Memorial with the names of the 35 victims. It rests along the edge of Tampa Bay near the southern end of the rest area on the north side of the bridge.