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Coast Guard suspends search for person in water after box truck goes over Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel rail

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Posted at 7:53 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 19:53:51-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard suspended their search for a man who entered the water after his tractor trailer crashed off the side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Tuesday.

"We would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of this individual during this time of tragedy,” said Capt. Samson Stevens, commander of Coast Guard Sector Virginia. “We would like to thank the local first responder agencies for their partnership and dedication in coordinating efforts and searching throughout the day with our crews.”

The Coast Guard and began searching for the man around 8:30 a.m., after a 6-tire box truck went over the rail into the water the east side of the northbound span between North Channel Bridge and the northernmost island, Virginia Beach officials said.

Witnesses told officials that the box truck was traveling northbound just before the second island and was seen going into the water.

Witnesses reported seeing a man exit the tractor trailer and drift west, according to officials.

Sector Virginia watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast for mariners to keep a lookout for the man. The driver, 47-year-old Erik Mezick, worked for a company out of Baltimore called Cloverland Farms Dairy.

Coast Guard crews searched approximately 178 square miles with multiple crews and assets from Coast Guard Station Cape Charles, the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk, and Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. Boat and shore crews from the Maritime Incident Response Team, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Beach Fire Department, and Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Police also participated in the search.

There is no current impact to the waterways from debris or pollution at this time.