Baltimore bridge ship crash fatalities: 2 confirmed dead, 4 still missing

All crew members of the ill-fated cargo ship that collided with and caused the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, March 26, have been located and found unharmed, ship management company Synergy Marine Group said in a statement.

Unfortunately, a construction crew working on the bridge suffered casualties, with eight individuals plunging into the icy waters of the Patapsco River, where temperatures were as low as 8 C. Of the eight, two were rescued – one unharmed and the other critically injured.

Baltimore police said Wednesday, March 27, that they had found the bodies of the two, leaving four individuals still missing.

Maryland State Senator Johnny Ray Salling, hailing from the affected area, emphasized the crucial role of the bridge not only in transportation but also in commerce. “Losing this bridge will devastate the entire area, as well as the entire East Coast,” said Salling, a Republican. (Related: Baltimore bridge collapse due to ship strike will have sweeping economic repercussions.)

Baltimore harbor pilots were reportedly directing the vessel at the time of the crash, as per customary practice during port or canal entries. However, radio transmissions from emergency responders indicated difficulties in steering the ship shortly after the collision, highlighting potential challenges faced by the crew.

Coast Guard halts search and rescue operation for missing individuals

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has decided to halt its search and rescue operation for the missing individuals. Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath announced the decision, citing the extensive search efforts, prolonged duration and cold water temperatures as factors.

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The collapse occurred after the large cargo ship lost power and collided with the bridge, resulting in vehicles and people plunging into the frigid river.

“While we are suspending active search and rescue efforts, the Coast Guard and our partners will continue to be present, transitioning to a different phase,” said Gilreath.

Efforts will now shift toward locating the missing individuals to provide closure to their families, according to Col. Roland L. Butler Jr., secretary of Maryland State Police.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore expressed solidarity with the families of the presumed victims, emphasizing their personal stories and the profound impact on the community. He also acknowledged the warning issued by the ship’s crew before the collision, highlighting the potentially life-saving actions taken.

The investigation into the incident continues, with the U.S. Coast Guard searching for hazardous materials among damaged shipping containers onboard the vessel.

The pilot efforts to prevent the collision were detailed by Clay Diamond, executive director and general counsel of the American Pilots Association, highlighting the rapid response despite a blackout onboard the ship.

As multiple agencies investigate the incident, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy assured a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the crash and collapse.

While the road to recovery and rebuilding may be lengthy and costly, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed confidence in the nation’s resilience. He emphasized the unique circumstances of the Key Bridge collapse and reassured the public regarding bridge safety nationwide.

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Watch Dave Walsh explain why the bridge collapse in Baltimore will affect the port and economy.

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