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MAGAZINE | BAY BULLETIN

Volunteers, including a local charter captain, have taken up the search for Erik Mezick.

Volunteer Boaters Continue Search for Truck Driver off Bridge-Tunnel

It was 8:20 a.m. on December 29, 2020, that Erik Mezick’s dairy truck plunged off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) into the Chesapeake Bay. He was driving north near milepost 14 when the accident occurred. Witnesses saw Mezick outside the cab of his mostly submerged truck shortly thereafter. The truck and Mezick were slowly drifting into the Chesapeake Bay. Sadly, Mezick has not been seen since that time, and is presumed dead. 

The U.S. Coast Guard called off their search after 30 hours. However, volunteers, family, and other authorities are still searching. Virginia Beach charter captain Ben Shepherd has been searching in his vessel Notorious whenever conditions are safe. The Virginia Marine Police are still searching with aircraft and boats. On January 11, Ellen Bolen, Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, said their marine officers are still searching daily, weather permitting. “They will continue searching until at least Saturday, January 16,” she said, and possibly beyond that date if necessary.

Erik’s Brother, Kevin Mezick, has been walking the beach in Virginia Beach on a daily basis. He posts his results on social media. He searches in Virginia Beach because debris from his brother’s truck has washed up there. One beachcomber found a piece of Erik’s truck near Cape Henry, which is roughly 10 miles from the accident scene. It is also in the opposite direction from where the truck was drifting at the time of the accident.  According to social media posts, a door from Erik’s truck was also found on the beach at Sandbridge, roughly 20 miles from the accident scene.  Kevin Mezick’s son, Gage, a Marine, has been searching the beach inside Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.  

Kevin Mezick has set up a Facebook page called Finding Erik Mezick.  The page contains updates and  two fundraising efforts, one for Erik’s family (he leaves behind two children and a wife of 24 years) and one for a cash reward for finding Erik.   

On Tuesday night Kevin Mezik shared news that an advanced sonar search team will scan the sea floor this Friday and Saturday, asking boaters to steer clear so as not to compromise the search grid.

With water temperatures in the 40s, it is likely that Erik’s body is still submerged. Bodies can remain submerged for weeks or even months when the water is cold.

The incident comes just over a year after another truck driver died when his tractor-trailer crashed off the CBBT, a 17.6-mile-long crossing that consists of bridges and two mile-long tunnels underneath beneath Thimble Shoals and Chesapeake navigation channels. The accident is being investigated by the CBBT Police.  Police say the accident is still under investigation.

-Kendall Osborne