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Ellenton, Florida -- A tractor trailer drove off Interstate 75 in Manatee County and plummeted 40 feet into the Manatee River Thursday morning.

The semi went off the Trooper J.D. Young Bridge, approaching US 301 near the Ellenton Premium Outlets at around 4:30 a.m. (Scroll down for a map of the area)

The driver, 40-year old Kevin Dennison, lost control of his beer delivery truck. It jacknifed, crossing three lanes, and smashed intothe left-hand wall.

It rode along the rail, then dropped over the side, plunging 40 feet down into the shallow Manatee River.

"EMS personnel responded. When they got here, the driver was standing on top of the truck, which was almost completely submerged," Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Miller said.

"They sent a boat out. They transported the driver to Blake Medical Center, and he is now in stable condition."

Troopers list the driver from Largo's injuries as serious, but not life-threatening.

The tractor trailer was a Hofbräu Haus beer truck. Earlier reports indicated it had no cargo, but 10 News has learned kegs of beer were inside the trailer, and there's concern they will get loose and float all over the river.

A slick of oil and fuel did get out of the truck. U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife crews are assessing the spill to see whether any of it can be contained. They expect any environmental damage to be minor.

Removing the truck is going to be a challenge. A pair of huge tow trucks may hoist it all the way out of the water and up onto the bridge.

But, in order to keep I-75 open, a crew may be called in to haul the truck out on a barge. Responders have not yet decided how they will get that job done.

PHOTOS: Semi in the water after falling off Trooper J.D. Young Bridge


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