Inside the grim search for bridge collapse victims as recovery teams face morbid task of fishing through murky water for bodies


Divers tasked with searching for victims of the horror Baltimore bridge collapse face hours in freezing, murky waters as they continue their heroic efforts. 

The treacherous conditions were cited by Maryland officials as they called off the search late Tuesday evening, admitting their operation has now become a rescue mission to find bodies. 

Six construction workers who were on the bridge at the time of the collapse remain missing, and Coast Guard officials say they are presumed dead. 

At a press conference Tuesday winding down the search, Col. Roland Butler of the Marland Police said dive teams face ‘changing currents, low temperatures, very poor visibility, and so much metal and unknown objects in the water.’ 

Diving teams scouring the wreckage of the Key Bridge in Baltimore face perilous conditions, including freezing temperatures, changing currents and very poor visibility

Diving teams scouring the wreckage of the Key Bridge in Baltimore face perilous conditions, including freezing temperatures, changing currents and very poor visibility 

Rescuers are deployed with structural engineers to help navigate around the dangerous wreckage. On Tuesday night, the perilous conditions led officials to call off the search

Rescuers are deployed with structural engineers to help navigate around the dangerous wreckage. On Tuesday night, the perilous conditions led officials to call off the search 

Late into the first day of the search, eerie footage emerged showing rescue teams combing the Patapsco River with flashlights. 

Crews searched along the twisted remnants of the 1.6-mile Key Bridge, which could be seen embedded into the bow of the vessel. 

Dive teams face significant struggle to move around the wreckage, with the footage showing them aiming flashlights around the murky waters. 

Hopes of finding the workers alive dwindled into the evening, and experts said the frigid 46F degree waters would make survival only possible for up to three hours. 

Jeffrey Pritzker, the executive vice president of the workers’ company Brawner Builders, said the conditions were reason enough to presume they perished in the tragedy. 

‘We’re presuming that they are not alive because they were thrown into the bay in an area that’s 50 feet deep, with 46-degree temperature, probably buried under tons of steel,’ Pritzker told the Baltimore Banner

‘The company is in mourning and it’s a terrible, unanticipated tragedy,’ he added.  

At the press conference, Butler said he was bringing his teams inside for the night as the dangerous mission was also imperiling the lives of crewmembers. 

‘The last thing we want to do is put divers in the water with changing currents, low temperatures, very poor visibility, and so much metal and unknown objects in the water,’ he said.

‘All it takes is one object to strike an individual, and all of a sudden, we have a first responder recover another first responder,’ he said, noting that they would be in a ‘better position’ to find bodies by waiting until Wednesday morning. 

Col. Roland Butler of the Marland Police said he was calling off the search due to the risks facing dive teams

Col. Roland Butler of the Marland Police said he was calling off the search due to the risks facing dive teams 

Rescue personnel gather on the shore of the Patapsco River after a container ship ran into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing its collapse

Rescue personnel gather on the shore of the Patapsco River after a container ship ran into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing its collapse

Officials said they are searching for at least six individuals in the frigid waters

Officials said they are searching for at least six individuals in the frigid waters 

Crews searched along the twisted remnants of the 1.6-mile Key Bridge, some of which could be seen embedded into the bow of the vessel in the freezing river

Crews searched along the twisted remnants of the 1.6-mile Key Bridge, some of which could be seen embedded into the bow of the vessel in the freezing river 

Astonishing footage captured the moment the vessel plowed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, sending the colossal steel structure crashing into the freezing Patapsco River

Astonishing footage captured the moment the vessel plowed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, sending the colossal steel structure crashing into the freezing Patapsco River 

The ship, a 948-foot-long DALI operated by Singaporean company Synergy Group, collided with the bridge shortly after it departed the Port of Baltimore

The ship, a 948-foot-long DALI operated by Singaporean company Synergy Group, collided with the bridge shortly after it departed the Port of Baltimore

The bridge spans 9,000 feet across the Patapsco River and is 180 feet above the water

The bridge spans 9,000 feet across the Patapsco River and is 180 feet above the water

Divers were sent back out to the freezing Patapsco River at 6am Wednesday morning.

Given the dangerous conditions, they will reportedly be accompanied by a structural engineer to help navigate around the debris due to the risk of a punctured suit or airline. 

Maryland Governor Wes Moore said divers were dealing with a ‘treacherous situation’ as he praised their efforts. 

‘We’re talking about frigid temperatures, we’re talking about a moving tide, we’re talking about darkness and mangled metal, that’s still very much in the middle of this water,’ Moore said. 

‘The heroism of our first responders was just outstanding.’ 

Moore also noted the quick action of transportation officials on the bridge moment before the crash, as they halted traffic immediately as the ship’s crew sent out a mayday alert. 

‘I have to say I’m thankful for the folks who once the point came up and notification came up, that there was a mayday,’ Moore said. 

‘Who literally by being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge, these people are heroes. They saved lives.’ 

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (center) praised the efforts of dive crews and said the 'heroism of our first responders was just outstanding'

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (center) praised the efforts of dive crews and said the ‘heroism of our first responders was just outstanding’ 

Investigations into how the vessel didn't avoid the bridge are ongoing, with an initial report citing a 'propulsion' fault as a potential cause

Investigations into how the vessel didn’t avoid the bridge are ongoing, with an initial report citing a ‘propulsion’ fault as a potential cause 

A search operation underway in the frigid Patapsco River early on Tuesday morning

A search operation underway in the frigid Patapsco River early on Tuesday morning 

The first of the six victims was named Tuesday as Miguel Luna, 49, a construction worker who was on the bridge at the time of the collapse

The first of the six victims was named Tuesday as Miguel Luna, 49, a construction worker who was on the bridge at the time of the collapse 

Maynor Suazo, 37, a native of Honduras has been named as the other man missing and presumed dead

Maynor Suazo, 37, a native of Honduras has been named as the other man missing and presumed dead 

The ongoing rescue missions come as the first two missing victims have been identified. 

Miguel Luna, 49, was on the graveyard shift with the rest of his Hispanic crew when the Dali ship lost propulsion and caused the collapse. 

Luna, a father of six, is now presumed dead.  

His heartbroken wife Carmen Castellon told Telemundo 44: ‘They only tell us that we have to wait, that for now, they can’t give us information. [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.’

A second man, Maynor Suazo, 37, a native of Honduras was identified in his homeland as another worker who is missing and presumed to be dead. Suazo, a father of two, had been living in the US for the past 18 years.

Guatemala’s consulate in Maryland said in a statement that two of the missing were citizens of the Central American nation. It did not provide their names but said consular officials were in contact with authorities and assisting the families.

Mexican officials have said that some of their citizens are missing but did not say how many.



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