A Delaware man was killed early yesterday when his tractor-trailer plunged 30 feet off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel into about 40 feet of water after the rig was struck by lightning, witnesses told authorities.
The body of Garfield W. Daniels Jr., 54, of Lincoln, Del., was recovered from the water at 1:39 p.m., said Lorraine Smith, a spokeswoman for the bridge-tunnel. Coast Guard divers found the cab of the truck about midmorning, but Daniels' body was outside the cab under a fuel tank, Smith said.
Daniels had been a driver since 1971 for the Pet Poultry Co., a dogfood processing plant in Bridgeville, Del., and his truck was carrying empty poultry cages when the accident occurred, according to Joe Bolden, the plant manager.
The truck was heading north of the 17.6-mile span about 5 1/2 miles from the Virginia Beach toll plaza when lightning struck it at 3:13 a.m., Smith said. Fishermen west of the span watched the truck veer out of control, then go over a guardrail on the west side and into the water, ripping out a six-foot section of bridge railing.
The bridge-tunnel, which connects Virginia Beach with Virginia's Eastern Shore, has had several major accidents since it opened in 1964, including three cases last year in which tractor-trailer rigs plunged into the water.