Sunshine Skyway:

Ghostly Jumpers, Vanishing Hitchhikers

Skyway bridge supports

The Story submitted by email:  

I am a witness to the hitchhiker. I have seen her several times – every time she is jogging along the causeway.  Except for one time, when I was at the top of the bridge in 1998.  I was looking down into the water when the hitchhiker jogged right past me, said “don’t do it” and then went on her way down the slope, disappearing from view.  She is a fairly tall, slender girl with blonde hair down to her shoulders.  She was wearing a hooded shirt that night. I didn’t know she was a spirit until that night.  I saw her several times jogging along the causeway after that, but it’s been a few years since I’ve seen her.  I really don’t travel that way, not since 2002.

 by email: 


My spirit adventure could not really be classified as a true adventure with “spirits” as I was traveling in a van with 9 other people, on a terrible cold and windy night, shortly after the accident at the bridge. It was creepy to begin with, and as we came to a halt at the top of the bridge span (due to a traffic problem) I could look over and see the mess of the bridge span that had collapsed. I felt a hovering presence there…..I have had that before under similar disaster circumstances – and could not shake the sense of “presence” and doom. It was horrible, and wrecked what might have been a fun evening! — GR.

The story heard word of mouth:  The Sunshine Skyway bridge was originally opened in 1954 to connect Pinellas with Manatee county.  The tallest bridge in the area, it already gained a reputation for attracting suicides.  A few years after it was opened, a woman jumped into the murky depths of the bay below.  Some believe that the span was cursed as several Native American (now an extinct tribe) middens (shell mounds) were, reputedly, destroyed in creating the span.  Parts of the roadway leading to the bridge were built on top of the mounds’ former resting places.

After that time, rumors began to circulate of a vanishing hitchhiker.  Stories circulated of people who saw a beautiful blonde woman hitchhiking near the mid-span.  When they stopped to pick her up, nothing seemed out of the ordinary — she had a physical tangible presence in the car — but as the vehicle approached the summit of the bridge, she would begin to cry.  When the driver turned to ask what was wrong they’d find themselves alone in the vehicle.  One account, possibly the original story, comes from The Tampa Bay Triangle  (by Captain Bill Miller).  This book cites a specific story of a couple who, in the 1960s, had just such an encounter. 

(Brandy notes:  Interviews with toll takers on the bridge were aired on the radio; toll collectors claimed that many people had the same experience).

Things get interesting because the original Sunshine Skyway bridge was hit by a freighter May 10, 1980.  The central span collapsed causing the death of 36 people traveling across it at the time.  The most tragic aspect is that a Greyhound bus with college students going home for the summer was one of the vehicles that fell into the water below.  All on the bus were killed.  Of those trapped in their vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed, only 1 person survived when their car hit the boat lodged underneath, then fell into the bay.  At this time, the old span was destroyed and the current span built (with the famous yellow “sails” that some say the aliens use to “call home”).  Remnants of the old bridge were left to serve as two fishing piers (one stretching from the northbound span, the other from the southbound).  The new bridge and those remnants have additional stories:

The hitchhiker isn’t done yet.  She has, apparently, moved to the new bridge.  Stories have changed her hair color to that of a brunette.  It’s hard to determine if this is an urban legend or not, as the new span, being taller than the old one, has had a plethora of suicides.  The bridge has added phones along the top of the span for potential suicides to call for help, or for passing motorists to phone in activity.  (Brandy:  As of 6 months ago, I have a friend of a classmate who jumped.  It is an active site).

The fishing piers are said to be haunted.  The Tampa Bay Triangle sites two fishers who were on the pier early in the morning of May 10, 1990.  At the time of the original span’s destruction, the two men felt an eerie presence.  One man saw the a spectral bus, all people sitting bolt forward with looks of terror on their faces.  The bus passed them by; the astounded witness saw one person in the back of the bus turn around and wave at him, smiling.

The fishing pier also links to another legend:  the Flirty Fisherman. (We’ll be checking that story soon).

There is an additional rumor relating to the bus.  Apparently, once fished out of the bay, Greyhound used the bus parts that they could salvage in other buses.  Any bus that had one of these parts in it allegedly burst into flames.  This sounds remarkably like the story of the remains of Flight 401, another transportation tragedy in Florida.  A plane crash landed in the Everglades, killing all on it.  The salvaged parts were used in other planes and apparently brought along the ghost of one of the crew members, who only appeared during times of crisis.

Other accounts of stories:

Sunshine Skyway:  Ghostly Jumpers, Vanishing Hitchhikers
August 10, 2007:  After the Florida Ghost Conference in Clewiston, Florida: 

EMF was unusually high on the Southbound span up through the center of the span.  The meter was registering about a 6.0 EMF through most of the trip.  It is hard to determine if the EMF was created from the car or from something on the bridge.

All images were taken from a moving car (it is very hard to pull over on the bridge).  Nothing unusual appeared.  Members have crossed the bridge individually and none report any unusual phenomena.

Paranormal Investigation, 11/16/08:
Paranormal Puck attempt: 

User: Is there anything here?
User: Is this the vanishing hitchhiker?
keep legs 
several User: Is this the flirty fisher?
glove history 
User: Are you related to the buss?
lick france .
User: Is there a ghost at the water fountain?
door ambition test 
User: Is there a ghost at the gaurd station?
User: Are you male?
he’s Robert .
User: Are you femaile?
User: Is your name Robert?
comfort deep 
User: Did you die on the bridge/
seek cattle 
User: Did you die on the bus that went the bridge?
memories vector coast 
User: Is this totally random?
User: Do you stay in this building?
ass find finger 
User: Are you a vagrant?
User: Did you jump from the bridge?
sand told remote 
User: So is there anyone here?
anything video legs 
User: KIf I use the video camera, will you appear?
hole pounds empath 
User: What does that mean?
User: Is there anything that you want to share with us?

Interviews with people on bridge:
1:  Knew story but hadn’t seen anything; out every weekend
2:  Knew story, no ghosts
3:  Group, no.
4:  New to the area, no stories.
5:  Couldn’t tell you about it.

Heard that the gaurd station had a ghost.  Interviewed the gaurd:
No, a friend was playing a joke and alluding to him that he had a ‘ghost’ in the guard shack.  He didn’t think it was haunted.
Drove the bridge a lot; no ghosts.  Only heard of the vanishing hitchhiker. Nothing on this fishing pier.

General discussion:  
Bridge was unhappy feeling.  All agreed it was rather creepy, not fun.  It has a “abandoned feel”, “void of emotion”, 
despite the fact that it is filled with kids and families and should have more experience to it.  Bus accident is at the back of the mind — 
creepy feeling.  Group wondered if the ghostly activity is on the east span of the North pier.  This part of the bridge is currently closed.
We would like to try the South Pier which is still open, to see if it feels different than this one.

Note:  On Nov. 20, 2008, a man jumped from the Skyway to his death, as reported by the St. Petersburg Times.

8-9-08:  Returning from an investigation in Sarasota.  This image was taken at 10 p.m. through an open car window.  The EMF meter was on and spiked on “Did you commit suicide here?” And “What was the last year you remember?” (series of years announced) Spike on “2000”.  Granted, the conditions for images were not perfect, and the bridge isn’t a good place for EM readings, but these two questions proved interesting.

Suicide drives off of fishing pier (12/23/15):

May 9, 2015:

Memorial posted for the 35th anniversary of the bridge collapse:

Tampa Tribune article
Bay News 9 article

Other sources:
Reeser, Tim. Ghost Stories of St. Petersburg, FL:

2018 was a record uear for suicies on the bridge:

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