Families of victims in Baltimore bridge collapse speak out: “Tremendous agony”

One day after the devastating collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, bodies were recovered from the Patapsco River, leaving families of those missing or presumed dead mourning in the aftermath.

“Divers recovered two victims of this tragedy trapped within the vehicle,” said Col. Roland Butler, Jr., superintendent of Maryland State Police, at a news conference on Wednesday.

Maryland State Police identified the two victims as 35-year-old Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, who was originally from Mexico, and 26-year-old Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, from Guatemala. Divers found the men on Wednesday morning in a red pickup truck that was submerged in water about 25 feet deep.

The Key Bridge was a critical piece of infrastructure for the city of Baltimore, with a four-lane span over a stretch of the Patapsco River that was about 1.6 miles long and served some 30,000 commuters daily. The bridge came apart during the early hours of Tuesday morning, when a large container ship that had recently left the nearby Port of Baltimore lost power and slammed into one of its supporting columns, causing the entire structure to collapse into the water and taking people and vehicles along with it. 

Everyone on the bridge at the time of the collapse was part of a construction crew filling potholes along the span. The bridge had been open to traffic through the night, but, minutes before the ship struck that column at around 1:30 a.m., officials said the crew onboard issued a mayday call that gave Maryland responders enough time to block drivers from entering the span.

Francis Scott Key Bridge in US collapses after cargo ship collision
A view of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge after a collision with a cargo ship in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024.

Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images

Ahead of the collapse, police can be heard on scanner traffic discussing the possibility of construction workers on the bridge.

“If there’s a crew up there, you might want to notify whoever the foreman is and see if we can get them off the bridge temporarily,” says the dispatcher in audio from a Maryland Transportation Authority Police channel, which was shared on the website Broadcastify.

Two people were rescued from the river shortly after the collapse. One was unharmed, while the other was hospitalized with injuries and later released. 

The bodies recovered Wednesday were only two of six people that remained missing. After reviewing sonar scans, officials say they firmly believe the four whose bodies have not yet been found are likely trapped inside vehicles encased in rubble underwater, conditions too dangerous to dive in.

Among those still missing is Miguel Luna, a father of three who came to the United States 19 years ago from El Salvador in search of a better life. The 40-year-old left for work at 6:30 p.m. on Monday to fill potholes on the bridge.

“He’s supposed to come in the morning back home, and never come,” said Gustavo Torres, the executive director of CASA, a nonprofit human rights organization that advocates for immigrant communities.

Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, another missing worker, was days away from celebrating his 35th birthday when the bridge collapsed. Described as the light of his family, Sandoval leaves behind a teenage son and 5-year-old daughter. He was identified as a Honduran citizen by Honduras’ Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Antonio García, the Associated Press reported.

Divers recover 2 bodies from Baltimore bridge collapse site


Sandoval’s eldest brother said their family is in “tremendous agony.”

Father Ako Walker, a Baltimore priest, has been mourning with the families.

“They were out there working, sacrificing for their families. And unfortunately, they may have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Walker said of the victims.

Immigrants make up nearly 40% of construction workers in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., metro areas. Local officials and worker advocates who have been speaking to CBS News on the ground point out that it is likely that same community will be relied upon to rebuild the Key Bridge.

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