NATIONAL NEWS

2 bodies found in truck under Baltimore bridge collapse as investigators end search for workers, police say

Mar 27, 2024, 4:35 PM | Updated: 4:37 pm

In an aerial view, cargo ship Dali is seen after running into and collapsing the Francis Scott Key ...

In an aerial view, cargo ship Dali is seen after running into and collapsing the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, in Baltimore, Maryland. (Tasos Katopodis, Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

(Tasos Katopodis, Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — The bodies of two people were recovered from the Patapsco River Wednesday as officials searched the water after a container ship collision caused the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

The two people, a 35-year-old and a 26-year-old, were found trapped in a red pickup truck under the middle of the fallen bridge, according to the Maryland State Police.

Superintendent Col. Roland L. Butler said search and recovery efforts have ended for the four additional people who were on the structure and are presumed dead.

Here’s the latest:

  • The investigation: A team from the National Transportation Safety Board boarded the ship late Tuesday night to gather evidence for their investigation, agency Chair Jennifer Homendy told CNN on Wednesday. Officials obtained the ship’s data recorder, or black box, which Homendy said would help investigators develop a timeline of events leading up to the crash. The agency will also interview members of the ship’s crew, she said. Sources familiar with the probe say it will look into whether contaminated fuel played a role in what happened, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • No threat to the public: Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Gautier, the deputy commandant for operations, said there is no hazmat threat to the public. Of the ship’s 4,700 cargo containers, only two are missing overboard and neither contains hazardous materials, he said. The vessel has over 1.5 million gallons of oil on board but remains stable.
  • Ship lost power before crash: Just minutes before impact, there was a “total blackout” of engine and electrical power on the ship, according to Clay Diamond, executive director of the American Pilots Association.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge toppled shortly before 1:30 a.m. Tuesday when the Dali, a 213-million-pound cargo vessel, lost power while trying to leave the port and smashed into one of the bridge’s support columns, sending people and cars into the frigid Patapsco River.

The collapse of the bridge and the resulting closure of the port will have major repercussions on the city’s economy as well as on the country’s supply chain, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday. The Baltimore port is the largest in the US for autos and light trucks, handling a record 850,000 vehicles last year.

Buttigieg said there are four main focus points ahead: reopening the port, dealing with supply chain issues until its reopening, rebuilding the bridge and dealing with road transportation issues until the bridge is rebuilt.

“Rebuilding will not be quick, or easy, or cheap, but we will get it done,” he said.

Officials have yet to provide a timeline for reopening. President Joe Biden said he intends for the federal government to cover the full repair costs and called on Congress to support rebuilding efforts.

LIVE UPDATES: Baltimore bridge collapses after ship collision

Victims were construction workers on night shift

Eight construction workers were believed to be mending potholes on the bridge when it fell, according to officials. Two survived and were pulled from the river but the remaining six are presumed dead due to the prolonged search time and cold water conditions.

Among the victims was Miguel Luna, a father of three, and Maynor Suazo, a father and entrepreneur.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Guatemala said two Guatemalans are also unaccounted for: a 26-year-old from San Luis, Petén and a 35-year-old from Camotán, Chiquimula. Two of the missing victims are Mexican nationals, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said.

Brawner Builders Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pritzker told CNN there were seven employees on the bridge on the night of the collapse. Just one survived.

“These were wonderful young men. They were doing a tough job. These guys were hardworking wonderful people and now they’re gone,” Pritzker said.

He said the company is in the process of putting together compensation packages for the victims’ families.

Divers resumed search and recovery efforts for the victims Wednesday, which were paused overnight due to dangerous conditions, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore told CNN. The governor praised the divers who were working in “pitch dark conditions, in frigid temperatures, in high tides and high winds, with mangled metal all around them.”

Moore called the collapse a “catastrophic and horrific occurrence” for the state and the families of those missing, who he was able to speak with Tuesday.

“They reminded us who these individuals were – that they weren’t just special workers who were doing important work for the city and for the state, but they were people who were husbands and sons and fathers and brothers-in-law,” Moore said. “So, this is a really devastated community of families.”

All 22 crew members of the Singaporean-flagged container ship are safe and accounted for, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Port’s closure to have major impact

The vessel and all of its contents still sit in the middle of the channel, its bow draped with massive pieces of the mangled steel bridge.

Gautier, the Coast Guard vice admiral, said the vessel is stable but has over 1.5 million gallons of fuel oil and lube oil on board. The ship has 4,700 cargo containers and 56 of those contain hazardous materials. Two containers with non-hazardous materials are missing overboard, and 13 containers on the bow of the ship were damaged, he said.

As part of the cleanup efforts, workers will first have to clear the portion of the bridge sitting on top of the ship, Gautier said. There is no indication of damage or flooding under the vessel, he said.

Ten other ships are stuck inside the port in the wake of the bridge’s collapse, federal authorities said Wednesday.

In the meantime, the port’s economic impact stretches well beyond Maryland. It indirectly employs over 140,000 people and handles more foreign cargo than any other port in the country, he said.

“This isn’t just about the impact this is going to have on Maryland’s economy. This is the impact that’s going to have on our country’s economy,” Moore said.

“This is the farmer in Kentucky. It’s the auto dealer in Michigan. So we’ve got to prioritize being able to get that bridge rebuilt, to give them support and get this channel reopened.”

Buttigieg said he does not have an estimated reopening time for the Patapsco River channel, but is working with the US Coast Guard and other authorities to get it open as soon as possible.

“Not only do we need to get those ships in, there are some ships that are already in there that can’t get out. So, it’s very important to get that channel open,” he said.

Ship’s pilot did ‘everything he could,’ pilot association official says

The pilot of the ship did “everything that he could have done” to both slow the vessel down and keep it from drifting toward the bridge once it lost power, said Diamond, the American Pilots Association director.

Diamond told CNN he has been in close communication with the Association of Maryland Pilots regarding what unfolded on the ship in the moments leading up to the crash.

The pilot quickly gave a string of orders, calling for the anchor to be dropped and the rudder to be pulled as far left as possible, Diamond said. He also called the dispatch office to shut down traffic on the bridge – an action several officials have credited with saving lives.

Dropping the anchor was in line with standard emergency procedures, but the speed and mass of a ship determine whether or not the anchor will hold, a former pilot for the Association of Maryland Pilots told CNN.

“We’re thankful that between the mayday and the collapse, that we had officials who were able to begin to stop the flow of traffic so more cars were not on the bridge,” Moore said Tuesday.

But the extraordinary size of the vessel and its proximity to the bridge meant there was little hope for avoiding the crash, Diamond said.

“Those were all the appropriate steps, but it happened so quickly and with so little lead time … neither one of those maneuvers were enough,” said Diamond.

Maritime pilots, who are required to be licensed, temporarily board a ship and help guide the vessel as it maneuvers through local waters.

Questions over previous incidents involving ship and management company

As officials worked to investigate the collapse Tuesday, questions emerged over previous issues with the ship and its management company.

The ship was briefly held at the Port of San Antonio in Chile on June 27, 2023, when an inspector found that the pressure gauges for the vessel’s heating system were “unreadable,” a spokesperson for the Chilean Navy said.

Ships managed by the Synergy Marine Group have been involved in at least three deadly incidents since 2018 in Australia, Singapore and the Philippines, according to officials in those countries.

In 2018, a member onboard of a vessel managed by Synergy in Australia was killed in an accident involving the ship’s personnel elevator, according to a report from the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau.

In 2019, an officer on a Synergy-registered vessel in Singapore was reported missing after “likely (falling) overboard while performing inspection or cleaning jobs,” according to a report by the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau of Singapore’s Ministry of Transport.

In 2023, at least one sailor was killed when a Synergy Marine-managed tanker collided with a dredging ship in the Philippines, causing it to capsize, according to an incident report from the Philippines Coast Guard.

Synergy Marine Group is focused on the Baltimore incident, spokesperson Charlie Ridgeway told CNN in a phone call Wednesday. “It would be inappropriate to discuss any previous incidents at this time.”

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

High school students taking College boards exams in 1964. (Warren K. Leffler, US News & World Repor...

Eva Rothenberg, CNN

Should the SAT still matter after all these years? Why some colleges are bringing it back

After decades of controversy over bias, the SAT is being brought back in commission by some colleges.

54 minutes ago

FILE - Colorado Rockies hitting coach Hensley Meulens chats with players as they warm up before a b...

Associated Press

Federal officials investigating cockpit visit by Rockies coach during United flight

Federal transportation officials are investigating an unauthorized inflight cockpit visit by a coach for the Colorado Rockies during a United Airlines charter flight last week from Denver to Toronto.

16 hours ago

Tim Hernandez hugs Kallie Leyba as former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, second from right, hugs Anne...

Colleen Slevin, The Associated Press

12 students and teacher killed in Columbine school shooting remembered at 25th anniversary vigil

A girl who wrote to God in her diaries, a boy with learning disabilities who was just learning to like who he was and a teen who would spend every free minute fishing were among the 13 victims of the Columbine High School shooting remembered during a vigil Friday on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the shooting that was the worst the nation had seen at the time.

21 hours ago

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 23: A young fan displays her ticket for Taylor Swift's first Sydney co...

Anita Snow, Associated Press

Record Store Day celebrates indie retail music sellers as they ride vinyl’s popularity wave

Special LP releases, live performances and at least one giant block party are scheduled around the U.S. Saturday as hundreds of shops celebrate Record Store Day during a surge of interest in vinyl during a surge of interest in vinyl and the day after the release of Taylor Swift's latest album.

22 hours ago

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at the US Capitol earlier this year. (Craig Hudson/REUT...

Ted Barrett, Morgan Rimmer and Clare Foran, CNN

Senate passes surveillance bill despite contentious debate over privacy concerns

The Senate voted late Friday to reauthorize a key surveillance authority, avoiding a lapse in the controversial program.

23 hours ago

This photo from the US Navy shows the USS Higgins in Yokosuka, Japan, in November 2022. (Mass Commu...

Shania Shelton, CNN

US sailor found guilty at court martial on attempted espionage charges

A US sailor who served in Japan was found guilty on Friday at a general court martial for attempted espionage, failure to obey a lawful order and attempted violation of a lawful general order.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

2 bodies found in truck under Baltimore bridge collapse as investigators end search for workers, police say