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44 Years After Deadly Collapse, It Has Happened Again

( – In the 1980s, a freighter ship hit the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, Florida, on a foggy morning. The bridge collapsed, killing 35. Forty-four years later, it has happened again — this time in Maryland.

On Tuesday, March 26, a cargo ship lost power and drifted into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, spanning the Patapsco River. The vessel was able to send out a mayday call to authorities before the accident, which gave officials enough time to stop the traffic on both ends of the bridge. Unfortunately, there was a road construction crew on the structure filling potholes at the time.

When the cargo ship struck the bridge, it immediately collapsed, sending the eight workers into the river below. Rescuers pulled two of the workers out of the river alive. Sadly, the other six are presumed dead. The US Coast transitioned from a rescue to a recovery late Tuesday evening.

The accident in Baltimore brought back memories to those in the Tampa Bay Area. On May 9, 1980, a freighter slammed into the Skyway bridge, causing it to fall into Tampa Bay 150 feet below. Just like the incident in Baltimore, it happened in the early morning hours. And like the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the Skyway is a major thoroughfare in Florida. Multiple cars and a Greyhound Bus fell into the Florida waters.

Cynthia Zahnow spoke to The Washington Post on Tuesday and said she was just 19 years old when the Skyway accident happened. She said she was a member of the search-and-rescue team, and her job was to hoist bodies recovered from the Greyhound bus. “I remember loading the bus driver and seeing the horror still frozen on his face,” she said.

Ironically, Zahnow works at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore as an oncology professor. She said she has driven over the Key Bridge many times, and when she heard the news of Tuesday’s accident, it took her right back to that rainy day in Florida so many years ago.

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