Attorney determined to clear pilot’s name—again—in Skyway Bridge disaster

Iconic moment showing a car driven by Richard Hornbuckle who was able to brake just in time to avoid a plunge into the Bay after a freighter hit the Skyway Bridge in 1980. Hornbuckle told media, "“The Lord was real good to the four of us." (Image from NBC news video May 9, 1980 provided to Facebook)
Richard Hornbuckle said, “The Lord was real good to the four of us,” after he was able to brake in time when part of the Skyway Bridge collapsed, falling into Tampa Bay on May 9, 1980. (Photo from NBC News broadcast; May 9, 1980; video on Facebook)

Each May Floridians remember the 35 victims of the Skyway Bridge disaster in Tampa Bay. A freighter struck the bridge early in the morning on May 9, 1980. The freighter, Summit Venture, was flying the Liberian flag when a sudden storm made it impossible for radar to work.

The freighter was trying to turn when it struck the bridge. John E. Lerro, the pilot, eventually was cleared as far as fault goes, but that didn’t stop people from judging him. Media understandably covered the story intensely. Lerro is dead now, but his attorney aims to clear his name for the second time.

Tampa attorney Steve Yerrid is co-producing a film about the bridge disaster, hoping to set the record straight. Some media accounts reportedly blamed Lerro, and public opinion embraced theories the pilot had been drinking. Yerrid dismissed those theories because, he said, Lerro “was a health nut.” Continue reading “Attorney determined to clear pilot’s name—again—in Skyway Bridge disaster”