- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

MANATEE, Fla. (AP) - A St. Petersburg man is working to create a memorial for the 35 people who died in the 1980 Skyway Bridge disaster.

The Bradenton Herald (https://bit.ly/1vkOIcL ) reports that journalist Bill DeYoung is working to raise $8,000 to erect the granite-and-bronze memorial before a 35th anniversary event on May 9.

A 600-foot freighter struck the southbound span of Tampa’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge during a violent storm on May 9, 1980.

De Young worked through the Florida Legislature to secure the monument, which was officially approved in a bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott in June.

De Young is the author of a recently published book detailing the history of the bridge disaster.

“I was shocked and saddened that this dark day was fading into history, and very surprised there was nothing to memorialize these people,” DeYoung told the newspaper. “This is the worst ship-and-bridge disaster in American history.”

The memorial with the names of those killed will sit on a grassy stretch of land in the northside rest area between Blackthorn Memorial Park and the old Skyway fishing piers, DeYoung said.

Although the state did not pursue a marker for the 35 who died, Zachary Burch, a government affairs liaison with the Florida Department of Transportation, said the state supports DeYoung’s effort.

“It will be up to him or an organization to come up with the funds for the marker itself,” he said.

DeYoung hopes the public will donate the $8,000 needed for the memorial.

“We’ve raised about $2,000 already so we are a quarter of the way there,” he said. “We are starting to contact family members and hope to get as many as we can locate to come to the dedication.”

The monument will features a bronze plaque that will include a bas relief of the twin Skyway spans before the 1980 accident, It will also have the names of the 35 victims engraved under the words IN MEMORIAM, along with a brief explanation of the events of May 9, 1980.

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Information from: The Bradenton (Fla.) Herald , https://www.bradenton.com


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