Once a well-known landmark in the Daytona Beach area, the Orange Avenue Bridge (also known as the Veterans Memorial Bridge) has been the site of a recent renovation project, which began on June 6, 2016. The beloved bridge has been demolished, and a new bridge is being constructed over the period of thirty-two months. Dave (Name changed by request), a Vietnam war veteran and local author, decided to write an essay about the demolished bridge, and what it had meant to local veterans.
Honoring Veterans of Daytona Beach
But he soon got more than he bargained for. “I wanted to link the new construction to the importance of improved services for retired veterans and write an essay about it for publication,” Dave informed us, nodding proudly. “I thought it would suffice as a good reminder about the importance of protecting and honoring those who have served their country.
"At first I had trouble starting the essay, so on a whim one afternoon I decided to visit the construction site—meekly hoping it would somehow inspire me.” He cleared his throat, suddenly looking uneasy. “I drove to the area and was surprised to see that there were no construction crews around anywhere.
"Ducking past the safety fences, I stood at the very base of what would have been the bridge, trying to come up with a suitable first sentence. There was dirt and piles of steel rods all around me, and I walked among them. I was, admittedly, not paying very good attention to what was around me,” he added sheepishly.
“That’s when I took a step and the ground underneath me gave way. I plummeted several feet into what seemed to be some kind of sinkhole, whether it was natural or man-made, I am not sure. I was dizzy, but I carefully tested my limbs and I seemed to be all in one piece.
"The only problem then, of course, was how to get out—for the ground was several feet above my head. I’m not a young man anymore, but I’m not a total couch potato,” he laughed softly. “I tried to climb up the dirt wall and I got close to reaching the makeshift ledge several times, but to no avail.
The Woman in the Dirty Robe...
"I was on the brink of panic when I heard a woman’s voice call out to me from above. I looked up and leaning over the edge of the sinkhole was a pale woman wearing a ragged cotton robe. She reached down lower into the hole with one frail looking hand.
‘Help,’ she said calmly, gazing at me expectantly. Like all people who wear their robes in public, I thought she was crazy…but I also knew that I would not be getting out of that sinkhole without assistance.
"I reached my hand out to her and that’s when she opened her mouth and vomited a thick black liquid all over my face. I screamed and screamed—until I opened my eyes and saw a man wearing a construction uniform at the edge of the hole, asking me if I was conscious. I have since heard stories about the ghost woman who wanders that part of Daytona Beach, and I am certain that she visited me while I had been knocked out from the fall.”