Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse: divers recover 2 bodies from river

Francis Scott Key Bridge

BALTIMORE — The bodies of two people were recovered from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse site on Wednesday, officials said during a news conference.

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Col. Roland Butler Jr., superintendent of the Maryland State Police, said that divers located a red pickup truck at about 10 a.m. EDT. The truck was near the middle span of the bridge, and the divers recovered two bodies.

They were identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore; and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of Dundalk, Maryland.

NTSB: 764 tons of hazardous materials on vessel

Update 8:20 p.m. EST March 27: During a news conference later Wednesday in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said the agency wanted to “extend our deepest condolences” to the families of the victims of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

Hormedy said there were 21 crew members and two crew pilots on board the freighter at the time of the crash. She added that the vessel contained 56 containers of hazardous materials weighing 764 tons, and that some of the containers were breached.

Hormedy said most of the hazardous materials were “corrosives, flammables and miscellaneous hazardous materials.”

Some of items were lithium ion batteries, she said.

Some of the containers “were breached,” Hormedy said, noting that a “sheen” was seen on the Patapsco River.

Homendy told reporters that she boarded the Dali at about noon EDT. She said the vessel, which remains anchored in the Patapsco River, was in “utter devastation,” adding that “we certainly have structural damage everywhere.”

Hormedy said it would take at least two weeks to complete a report.

“It’s really important for folks to understand that we will not analyze any of the information we are collecting. We will not provide any sort of findings, conclusions or any safety recommendations while on scene,” Hormedy told reporters. ”Our entire focus on scene is to collect the perishable evidence -- that’s documenting the scene, it’s taking photographs, it’s taking any sort of electronics or components, whatever goes away once the scene is cleaned up.”

Marcel Muise, a marine accident investigator for the NTSB, said six hours of data from the vessel’s recorder were available for investigators to analyze. Numerous alarms were heard on the Dali as it approached the span of the 1.6-mile bridge.

Original report: Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice president of Brawner Builders, confirmed to The Washington Post that the victims were among the six missing employees from his company.

Butler added that state police notified the families of the victims at about 5 p.m. EDT.

“The notifications to these individuals’ family members and loved ones outside of the United States is being handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and accordance with their established protocols,” Butler told reporters. “Again, I encourage you all to think about these people and those that they love and they lost. They’re going to need your love and support.”

Butler added the victims’ countries of origin included Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

He told reporters that recovery efforts have been “exhausted.”

Divers believe that the other bodies are trapped beneath debris in the water.

Divers can no longer access that area, The New York Times reported. Officials plan to move to a cleanup operation and remove debris. When that has been completed, divers will return to search for the other bodies, according to the newspaper.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Sen. Ben Cardin, Sen. Chris Van Hollen and officials from the Maryland State Police, the U.S, Coast Guard and the Maryland Department of Transportation also spoke during the news conference.

Eight construction workers were filling potholes on the bridge when it was struck, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Jesus Campos, an employee who was not involved in the incident, said his missing co-workers were of Hispanic descent and were replacing concrete on the bridge at the time of the collision, according to the newspaper.

The workers were all employees of the Hunt Valley firm Brawner Builders, according to Jeffrey Pritzker, its executive vice president.

The Dali was leaving the Port of Baltimore when, moments later, the man piloting the ship reported that the vessel had “lost propulsion” and was likely going to hit the bridge.

Radio traffic from emergency workers suggested that the crew was struggling to steer the ship, according to audio published by Broadcastify and reported by The New York Times.

Most of the lights on the ship went dark minutes before the ship hit the bridge, and black smoke could be seen billowing from the vessel.

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