The Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a bridge spanning Tampa Bay, Florida, with a cable-stayed main span, and a total length of 21,877 feet (4.1 miles or approximately 6.67 km). It is part of I-275 (SR 93) and US 19 (SR 55), connecting St. Petersburg in Pinellas County and Terra Ceia in Manatee County, Florida, passing through Hillsborough County waters. Construction of the current bridge began in 1982, and the completed bridge was dedicated on February 7, 1987. The new bridge cost $244 million to build, and was opened to traffic on April 20, 1987. It replaced an older bridge constructed in 1954, which was partly destroyed in a collision in 1980.
The southbound span (opened in 1971) of the original bridge was destroyed at 7:33 a.m. on May 9, 1980, when the freighter MV Summit Venture collided with a pier (support column) during a blinding thunderstorm, sending over 1200 feet (366m) of the bridge plummeting into Tampa Bay. The collision caused six cars, a truck, and a Greyhound bus to fall 150 feet (46 m) into the water, killing 35 people.
According to compilations from various media reports as of 2009, at least 207 people have committed suicide by jumping from the center span into the waters of Tampa Bay since the opening of the new bridge in 1987, and an estimated 34 others have tried, but survived. A Rottweiler named Shasta survived after either following or being carried over the edge by its owner, who died. Another 51 people ended their lives from the old Sunshine Skyway from 1954 to 1987. One man, 23-year-old Michael “Luciano” Plezia of Cleveland, was forced to jump at gunpoint in 1981, after having been kidnapped, beaten, tortured, and stabbed.; another, a 24-year-old Sarasota carpenter, hanged himself from the bridge on Saturday morning, 4 July 1992. Several other missing persons are suspected of having jumped from the bridge, but their deaths could not be confirmed as no bodies were recovered. | source | image credit