All six workers missing after Baltimore bridge collapsed are presumed dead

Wednesday, March 27, 2024
 – The U.S. Coast Guard has said the six workers missing after Tuesday’s collapse of a major bridge in the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore are presumed dead.

The authorities said it was calling off the search-and-rescue mission for the six construction workers who went missing when a cargo ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early in the morning, sending it collapsing into the frigid Patapsco River and shutting down a critical artery for East Coast shipping.

It's now a recovery operation, according to Maryland State Police.

"We do not believe that we are going to find any of these individuals still alive," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Tuesday afternoon, Brawner Builders Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pritzker said the missing employees were presumed to have died given the water’s depth and the amount of time that had passed since the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed.

“This was so completely unforeseen,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know what else to say. We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers. But we never foresaw that the bridge would collapse.”

The company didn't name the employees, but María del Carmen Castellón told Telemundo 44 her husband, 49-year-old Miguel Luna, is one of them.

While access to the disaster zone is restricted, family members like Castellón were able to get in while they waited for news.

“They only tell us that we have to wait, that for now, they can’t give us information,” she said earlier in the day.

“[We feel] devastated, devastated because our heart is broken, because we don’t know if they’ve rescued them yet. We’re just waiting to hear any news.”

According to Jesús Campos, who worked alongside some of the victims for Brawner Builders for years, the men came from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico and became part of the community in Dundalk and Highlandtown.

As night fell, a somber Maryland Gov. Wes Moore expressed compassion for the families of those lost.

“I can’t imagine how painful today has been for these families, how painful these hours," he said. "Even though we've transitioned from a search and rescue to now a recovery mission, we will use every asset to make sure they find a sense of closure."

The crew was repairing potholes in the middle of the bridge’s span when a cargo ship hit it about 1:30 a.m. and crumbled the bridge.

Rescuers pulled two workers from the Patapsco River. One was hospitalized and released hours later.

Multiple vehicles also fell into the water, although authorities don't think anyone was inside them.

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