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Fla. man drives car off Sunshine Skyway bridge

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Posted at 2:54 PM, Dec 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-24 15:13:57-05

A Florida man died Wednesday after the Florida Highway Patrol said he drove off a fishing pier on the Sunshine Skyway near Tampa Bay.

FHP said the driver, identified as Richard K. McCrocklin, 52, of Eustis, Fla., drove his car off the south fishing pier of the bridge shortly after 2 p.m.

McCrocklin was seen standing by his vehicle before he drove the car into the barrier wall and off the end of the south pier into Tampa Bay. 

"I heard the car like going 1,000 mph, what it sounded like to me, and I turned around and he was probably really going at least 100 mph. I just barely had enough time to jump out of the way," Michael Munro said.

Nathan Marsh was awakened by the impact.

"I just heard a loud bang, and I looked up and I saw like the wall was missing," Marsh said.

Authorities said a red 2012 Mercedes two-door car went 25 to 35 feet deep into the bay. Divers spent two and a half hours, trying to get to the car and driver and pull them out of the water, but the wind and current made it difficult. 

Authorities continue investigating the incident and it is still not clear why McCrocklin drove off the pier. A temporary wooden fence has been placed at the end of the pier to cover the area where the car went into the water. 

"Like I didn't know really what happened. It happened so fast. I didn't have any time to comprehend it," Munro said.

St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue is currently assisting North River Fire District with a water rescue operation on the south fishing pier of the Skyway Bridge.

Posted by St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue on Wednesday, December 23, 2015