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Monday, Jul 16, 2018
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Driver of semi struck by Skyway tornado thought he ‘was in hell’

The driver of a semi truck that was heavily damaged by a waterspout that came onshore at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Sunday said he’s “a little bruised” but lucky to be alive.

Randall Leaver, 56, of Wesley Chapel, was driving a semi truck carrying freight for the U.S. Postal Service around 9:42 a.m. when the waterspout — which was seen on video — crossed over the Skyway.

“All of a sudden, I started feeling this gust of wind and I thought, ‘oh no, is this what I think it is?’ “ Leaver said this morning in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The funnel cloud came across the bridge from east to west as the truck was going north on Interstate 275 near mile marker 7.5, which is closer to the St. Petersburg side of the bridge, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

“I’ve never been to hell, but I thought I was in hell,” Leaver said.

The tornado’s impact lifted the truck and dropped it onto its right side before it lifted the truck again and left it upright, troopers said.

The video, shot from a car as it approached the truck, shows the roof of the truck tearing away and debris flying through the air as the tornado crossed over the road.

“The first thing I did when I got home was hug my son,” Leaver said. “God was definitely watching over me today.”

The tornado also damaged a nearby construction site, knocked over signs and overturned a small boat, troopers said.

Weather Center