SUV plunges into Tampa Bay after crash on Howard Frankland Bridge

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Highway Patrol said a vehicle plunged into Tampa Bay after a crash on the Howard Frankland Bridge on Wednesday morning.

According to the FHP’s report, a white 2006 Saturn SUV was traveling southbound in a reckless manner and started tailgating a Ford F150 near mile marker 34.

When the Saturn moved into the inside center lane of the roadway, the pickup truck changed lanes and moved in front of the SUV.

The Saturn then moved into another lane and tried to pass the pickup truck, but the Ford changed lanes again and the two vehicles collided.

The SUV flipped multiple times before it fell into the water, according to the report.

The vehicle has since been removed from the bay, but the driver’s condition and identity are unknown.

“At this hour, no occupant(s) have been recovered,” the FHP said in a statement.

The other driver was not hurt, according to the report. Charges are pending.

The incident shut down all southbound lanes of the roadway. Two inside lanes reopened around 10:50 a.m.

The Tampa Police Department dive team suspended its search around 3 p.m. Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office dive team will remain on scene until dusk.

8 On Your Side spoke to several drivers who were stranded in the bridge’s traffic for hours.

“I saw it was little heavier than normal, about a 45-minute drive and I was like oh that’s going to be alright,” said Dree Friar. “I’ll still be a little early for work and then as I got closer and closer to the bridge I just saw the GPS kept climbing… it kept climbing by the hour. And that’s when I realized I was probably in trouble.”

Another driver not only had to deal with the long traffic wait but also had to deal with car trouble while stuck on the bridge.

“So I pulled over, got out and checked the oil and no oil on the stick,” said Jack Allen. “It is [frustrating] and I have no telephone.”

The Florida Highway Patrol is asking anyone who witnessed the incident to contact the FHP by calling 813-558-1800 or FHP (347).

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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