VIRGINIA BEACH — A box truck went over the side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Tuesday morning, and the driver, a Maryland man, is missing.
The incident occurred around 8:20 a.m. in the bridge’s northbound lanes, more than three-quarters of the way from the Virginia Beach end of the 17-mile-long structure to its Eastern Shore side, according to a spokesman for the CBBT.
Erik Mezick, 47, of Fruitland, Maryland, was driving the two-axle, six-tire box truck when it went off the bridge, the CBBT said.
Mezick was driving the truck for Cloverland Greenspring Dairy, a Baltimore-based company that sells food products to hospitals, private and public schools, convenience stores and supermarkets in the mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia.
The CBBT said around 4:30 p.m. in a news release that the search for Mezick had been unsuccessful. They said they’d stop the search at dark and start again in the morning.
“The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the CBBT are with the family and loved ones of Mr. Mezick during this difficult time,” said Jeff Holland, executive director of the CBBT.
Crofton Diving, a Portsmouth company, will try to recover the truck Wednesday after marine conditions improve, the release said.
According to Virginia Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Trent, fire, police, and EMS units arrived on the scene this morning to find the vehicle floating in the water.
Witnesses saw the man get out of the truck and drift west. It was not clear whether he climbed out or fell out, said Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Tara Molle.
The Coast Guard search for the driver included a 45-foot Response Boat from Coast Guard Station Cape Charles, the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk, and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City.
The Virginia Beach fire department, emergency medical services and police assisted with the search, according to Victor Valdez, the acting district chief with the Virginia Beach Fire Department.
The wind wasn’t extremely strong Tuesday morning, but it was pretty gusty across the bay, Cody Poche, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield, said. After 9 a.m., winds got up to 30 mph, but that’s fairly common in the winter here, he said.
There were no wind restrictions on the CBBT Tuesday morning. The lowest level of restriction doesn’t kick in until there are sustained winds of 40 mph.
About 15 over-the-side crashes have occurred since 1984.
In July 2018, two men from Delaware died when a truck driven by Jervone Hall, 33, went off the side of the bridge. The passenger was Christopher Fenner, 29.
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