VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Todd Cannon was on his way to work Thursday morning, just feet behind a tractor-trailer when it plummeted off the side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
“It was actually very shocking,” said witness Todd Cannon. “Almost everything went into slow motion.“
It happened around 10 a.m. when truck the hit a maintenance vehicle and crashed through a guardrail and into the bay.
“I do remember the impact was significant,” Cannon added. “A lot of parts of the truck flew up in the air.“
Cannon was just coming out of the second tunnel when he noticed there was a work zone ahead and two lanes were merging into one.
“The tractor-trailer approached the work zone in the right lane, for whatever reason didn’t change lanes and impacted the last barrier truck,“ Cannon said.
By the time Cannon got up to gaping hole in the guardrail the big rig was already floating in the Chesapeake Bay.
Cannon’s training kicked in. He works for Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management as a Hazardous Materials Officer. He picked up his radio transmitters and took it upon himself to coordinate rescue efforts.
“When I looked over the edge, the cab was submerged and the box container that it was towing was floating, which was a good thing,“ Cannon said.
It was good because the cab was still attached and maybe there was a chance for crews to save the driver.
“In this case, the hopes were that he would come up after the collision and that didn’t occur,“ Cannon said.
Crews just weren’t able to get to driver in enough time to save his life. It was the ending no wanted to see.
“After every event like this we try to determine why did it happen,” Cannon said. “I can’t even really speculate on what that is. I‘m hoping an investigation will give us those answers.”
Two fisherman, Thomas Acosta and Jerry Howren, watched the truck fall from the water.
“We were sitting there fishing and first we heard the loud boom, and I turn my head and I [saw] the tractor-trailer nose-diving and the trailer actually plopping over on the side,” Acosta told WAVY.com. “We pulled anchor and ran over there as quick as we could…never seen [anybody] come out of it. Just sat there and circled around…waited ‘til the Coast Guard got there.”
“That was the worst thing not being able to help and all you could do is sit there and watch it,” Howren added. “You could tell at the angle where the truck was and the cab, the trailer was sticking out, it was almost straight down.”
Howren and Acosta said they didn’t see any cargo surface from the trailer, but they did see some of the driver’s personal items.
“There was a hard hat, you could see the guy’s lunch, just personal effects from the truck,” Acosta said.
Watch the entire interview with Acosta and Howren, by clicking here.