Interview with driver of mail truck hit by tornado on Sunshine Skyway Bridge
CLEARWATER -- Watching a tornado rip into his U.S. mail truck on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge was absolutely terrifying for driver Randy Leaver.
"Words can't describe it," Leaver said.
Leaver was driving the truck when the water spout came toward him just after 9 a.m. Sunday. At first he said he had no idea what was happening. He just spotted vehicles pulling off to the side of the road.
"I finally stop and the next thing I see is the big gust of wind coming," Leaver said. "I look in my side mirrors and I saw the trailer tires lift up off the ground. I grabbed hold of the steering wheel and I knew what was going on then and said: 'There's no way it's going to flip me over.'"
The tractor-trailer flipped onto its side. Leaver said his hands clenched the steering wheel.
"Just feeling myself turn over, felt like forever," Leaver said. "My kids flashed through my mind. It was hard."
Leaver panicked and tried to get out, but couldn't open the door. Seconds, he said, felt like minutes.
"The next thing I know, the truck was lifting me up in the air again and put me right side up," Leaver said. "As soon as I got right side up, I got out."
After his horrifying ordeal, Leaver said he checked himself out and then joined the rest of the people picking up mail.
"I was probably in shock," Leaver said.
Back at home, Leaver said he is sore, but that's OK because he's alive.
"Thank God I'm here," Leaver said. "I'm here for a reason because if it was my time, that would have been my time to go."
Leaver was driving from Miami after making a stop in Fort Myers. He said he had delivered most of the mail in his truck. He was on his way to Tampa's main post office to drop off the rest of the mail when the tornado struck.
Leaver is contracted to deliver the U.S. mail through FSR Trucking Inc. in West Palm Beach.