Drenched in sun and perched above the sparkling water of Tampa Bay, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge doesn’t look haunted. However, appearances can be deceiving. Dozens of ghostly tales surround the Tampa landmark which has been the site of two devastating accidents and over 200 suicides. Do the victims of these tragedies haunt the bridge today?
The dark history of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge
The original two-lane Skyway first opened in 1954, and officials built an addition in 1971. Aside from a few jumpers, all went well with the Skyway until two traumatic events in 1980.
On January 28, 1980, a buoy tender and a tanker collided while attempting to pass beneath the bridge. The accident killed 23 servicemen. On May 9, 1980, a freighter collided with one of the Skyway’s support columns, sending a portion of the bridge crashing into the bay. Eight vehicles plummeted into the water, including a Greyhound bus full of college students. Thirty five people died in the collapse.
After the two accidents, the original Skyway badly needed replacing, and officials opened the current Skyway in 1987. While there have been no accidents like those in 1980, the Skyway ranks fourth in the nation for number of bridge jumps. To date, over 200 people have leapt from the Skyway which is 197 feet above the water. Some live, most die.
Skyway Bridge hauntings
In the 1960’s and 70’s, motorists regularly phoned authorities to report seeing a young woman preparing to jump from the bridge. However, investigators never found the woman or a body. Another legend involves a beautiful hitchhiker who disappears. The troubled young woman reportedly sobs as the summit of the bridge draws near, causing the concerned driver to turn and console her. However, the woman vanishes before the car reaches the top. Motorists have spotted the hitchhiker on both the old bridge and the new, though no knows who she is. Is she the ghost of a young woman who once jumped from the bridge or merely an urban legend akin to Chicago’s Resurrection Mary?
Legend has it ghostly vehicles also haunt the Skyway Bridge. Parts of the original bridge now serve as piers which are a popular place to fish. According to one story, a group of men were fishing off the southbound pier when they saw an old model Greyhound drive by. The passengers on the bus were staring blankly ahead, except for one woman who smiled and waved. The date was May 9, 1990, the ten-year anniversary of the freighter collision. The sounds of screams and squealing brakes have also been known to shatter the pier’s early-morning silence.
It seems not all of the Skyway’s ghosts remain on the bridge. A paranormal diving team investigated the water under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and spotted “a weird unexplained light phenomenon.” Could the light be related to one, or both, of the 1980 tragedies?
Is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge truly haunted? While the idea might seem preposterous by the light of day, a late night drive across the bridge might just change your mind.
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