A blinding squall, then death

Photo -- Times files
Richard Hornbuckles's Buick sits on the edge of the abyss after the accident.

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The Summit Venture after ramming the Skyway.

At 7:38 a.m. May 9, 1980, during a blinding spring squall, the freighter Summit Venture rammed into the Sunshine Skyway and knocked out a 1,200-foot length of the bridge across the mouth of Tampa Bay. Thirty five people -- most of them in a Greyhound Bus -- plunged 150 feet to their deaths.

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The collapsed bridge dwarfs a small boat.

The accident, one of the worst bridge disasters in U.S. history, forever raised a nation's consciousness about protecting bridges from wayward ships. Supports for the new Sunshine Skyway, which opened in 1987, have a state-of-the-art design that is supposed to keep such a tragedy from happening again. Click here for more...

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