6 workers presumed dead after cargo ship crash levels Baltimore bridge


Writer David Simon, a champion of Baltimore who set his TV crime drama “The Wire” on the streets of the city he once covered as a reporter, warned online that the people who will suffer the most are those whose livelihoods depend on the port.

“Thinking first of the people on the bridge,” Simon posted on X. “But the mind wanders to a port city strangling. All the people who rely on ships in and out.”

Timeline of crash

Dramatic video captured the moment at 1:28 a.m. Tuesday when the Dali struck a support and sent the bridge tumbling into the water. A livestream showed cars and trucks on the bridge just before the strike. The ship did not sink, and its lights remained on.

Investigators said in a timeline that the Dali’s lights suddenly shut off four minutes earlier before they came back on and that then, at 1:25 a.m. dark black smoke began billowing from the ship’s chimney.

A minute later, at 1:26 a.m., the ship appeared to turn. And in the minutes before it slammed into the support, the lights flickered again.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said the workers on the bridge were repairing concrete ducts when the ship crashed into the structure.

At least seven workers were pouring concrete to fix potholes on the roadway on the bridge directly above where the ship hit, said James Krutzfeldt, a foreman.

Earlier, the Coast Guard said it had received a report that a “motor vessel made impact with the bridge” and confirmed it was the Dali, a containership sailing under a Singaporean flag that was heading for Sri Lanka.

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship
The Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday.Harford County Md Fire & EMS via Getty Images

Bobby Haines, who lives in Dundalk in Baltimore County, said he felt the impact of the bridge collapse from his house nearby.

“I woke up at 1:30 this morning and my house shook, and I was freaking out,” he said. “I thought it was an earthquake, and to find out it was a bridge is really, really scary.”

Families of bridge workers wait for updates

Earlier in the day, relatives of the construction crew waited for updates on their loved ones.

Marian Del Carmen Castellon told Telemundo her husband, Miguel Luna, 49, was working on the bridge.

“They only tell us that we have to wait and that they can’t give us information,” she said.

Castellon said she was “devastated, devastated because our heart is broken, because we don’t know how they have been rescued yet. We are just waiting for the news.”

Luna’s co-worker Jesús Campos said he felt crushed, too.

“It hurts my heart to see what is happening. We are human beings, and they are my folks,” he said.

Campos told The Baltimore Banner that the missing men are from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

Active search and rescue ends

The Coast Guard said it was suspending the active search-and-rescue effort at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Coast Guard’s not going away, none of our partners are going away, but we’re just going to transition into a different phase,” Gilreath said at a news conference.

Maryland State Police Superintendent Roland L. Butler, Jr., said it was moving to a recovery operation. Changing conditions have made it dangerous for divers, he said. 

Butler pledged to “do our very best to recover those six missing people,” but the conditions are difficult.

“If we look at how challenging it is at a simple motor vehicle crash to extract an individual, I’m sure we can all imagine how much harder it is to do it in inclement weather, when it’s cold, under the water, with very limited to no visibility,” he said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of debris in the water,” which can include sharp metal and other hazards, and that could take time, Butler said.

‘A long road in front of us’

Built in 1977 and referred to locally as the Key Bridge, the structure was later named after the author of the American national anthem.

The bridge is more than 8,500 feet long, or 1.6 miles. Its main section spans 1,200 feet, and it was one of the longest continuous truss bridges in the world upon its completion, according to the National Steel Bridge Alliance.

About 31,000 vehicles a day use the bridge, which equals 11.3 million vehicles per year, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

The river and the Port of Baltimore are both key to the shipping industry on the East Coast, generating more than $3.3 billion a year and directly employing more than 15,000 people.

Asked what people in Baltimore can expect going forward, the state’s transportation secretary said it is too early to tell.

“Obviously we reached out to a number of engineering companies, so obviously we have a long road in front of us,” Wiedefeld said.

Julia Jester reported from Baltimore, Patrick Smith from London, Corky Siemaszko from New York and Phil Helsel from Los Angeles.



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