Ellenton, Florida - The driver of a beer truck drives over the Manatee River Bridge and survives. The early morning accident ties up traffic and now the focus is on how to remove the truck from the river.
FHP says the bridge is structurally sound, just a few concrete chunks came off the barrier wall and the driver is at Blake Medical Center in serious but stable condition.
"It's a miracle he should thank God he is still alive," says Lt Chris Miller with the Florida Highway Patrol.
The driver of this tractor trailer, Kevin Dennison of Largo, survives a 40-foot drop off the Manatee River Bridge.
Miller says, "EMS responded when they got here the driver was standing on top of the truck which was almost completely submerged."
Miller says weather played a role. It had been raining around 4:30 Thursday morning when the FHP trooper says Dennison loses control of his truck. The 40-year-old driver is heading north on I-75 in the right hand lane.
"It jack-knifed went into the median wall after it hits the median wall into the Manatee River," says Miller.
The truck carrying German beer by Hofbrau Haus appears to have some kegs on board. It's unclear if the kegs are full or not. Environmentalists are monitoring fuel leakage from the truck.
"There is no large gushing spill or anything of that nature. There is sheen on the water and there is some diesel fuel in the water," says Officer Baryl Martin with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Martin says the leak is small and contained by the booms in place. Martin says, "It will contain any spill that comes from that vehicle, the engine or diesel, it will contain it until the vehicle is recovered and the booms will absorb anything in that area."
FHP says the truck will likely be removed on Friday. One option is having cranes lift it out of the water from the top of the bridge but FHP says that would mean closing that part of I-75, a move they would like to avoid.
FWC says the most likely option is bringing in a marine salvage company and removing the truck on a barge.
FHP is investigating the accident. Trooper Miller says the cause appears to be driver error, charges against Dennison are pending.