Florida Highway Patrol said 40-year-old Kevin Dennison cheated death. The Largo man was wearing his seat belt as he lost control of his semi-truck in heavy morning rain on Interstate 75 Thursday.
"This was a significant crash, and the driver, he's lucky to be alive," said Lt. Chris Miller with the Florida Highway Patrol.
Dennison's truck toppled off the bridge and dropped three stories into the Manatee River.
"When EMS arrived, he was standing on top of truck which was almost fully submerged," said Miller. "They had to send a boat out there, they recovered him and transported him to Blake Medical Center with serious but stable injuries and condition."
We sent a camera out on a boat to get an up-close view. Florida Fish and Wildlife and the EPA corralled what little fuel spilled with a boom stretched around the wreckage.
"There's an environmental crew hired by the company that's already on scene, they're going to look into containing any additional fuel that comes from the tanks," Miller said.
There was some minor damage to the retaining wall on the bridge, but FDOT checked it out and said it's structurally sound.
"He is fortunate to have survived this crash," Miller said.
The Florida Highway Patrol has a video that offers advice for if you end up submerged in water after an accident.
"What happens if you misjudge a curve in the road or lose control of your vehicle and end-up crashing into the water?" says the voice over in the video posted on the Florida Highway Patrol's website. "In some instances the vehicle will sink quickly and you won't be able to open the doors or roll down the window," instructed the video, which said to remain calm and remove your seatbelts and wait for the water to rise a little more than halfway inside the car.
The pressure inside will nearly match the pressure outside and you can then take a deep breath, roll down the windows and safely escape.
"For the driver to have survived a crash, where a tractor trailer has fallen off of a bridge into the water and was able to climb out, that's fairly significant," Miller said.
Luckily, the beer truck was empty and it's likely to stay submerged at least another day, until a marine salvage or tow company can figure out a safe way to remove the truck from the bottom of the Manatee River.
LINK: Watch the FHP video here: http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/videos/Surviving-mpg.mov