Remains of Two Victims Recovered From Baltimore Bridge Wreckage

Dali and Francis Scott Key Bridge
Courtesy NTSB

Published Mar 27, 2024 9:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

Dive search teams have been picking carefully through the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge since the first hours after its collapse on Wednesday, hoping to find six road construction contractors who went missing. Two of the deceased victims have been recovered, response officials said Wednesday, and the dive mission has been suspended due to dangerous conditions on scene. 

At about 1000 hours Wednesday morning, divers discovered a red pickup truck on the bottom in about 25 feet of water depth, said Maryland State Police Col. Roland L. Butler at a press conference. They pulled the bodies of two victims from within the truck and brought them to the surface. 

The families of the deceased have been notified, and the two men have been named as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, originally from Mexico, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, originally from Guatemala. 

All of the work crew members were from Mexico or Central America, including Salvadorans and Hondurans. A contracted bridge inspector was also among those who went into the water, state officials confirmed. 

Two men survived the fall and were rescued by first responders shortly after the casualty. One refused medical treatment, and the other was hospitalized with serious injuries. 

No further search and recovery operations are planned. The conditions on scene are treacherous for divers, including a tangle of metal debris in the water, frigid temperatures and low visibility, and response officials have said that the dive team members performed heroically in carrying out their work. 

The end of the search and recovery mission paves the way for salvage operations to begin. That mission has already been in planning and may proceed faster than anyone expects, says Bill Doyle, former Maryland Port Authority chief and current head of the Dredging Contractors of America.

Cause of power outage under investigation

On Wednesday, an official with the longshoremens' pension office in Baltimore asserted that the Dali had experienced power problems for two days while it was in port, before the casualty occurred. 

Julie Mitchell, co-administrator of the ILA Baltimore Container Royalty Fund, told CNN that the ship had a "severe electrical problem" and had experienced "total power failure" alongside the pier. 

Mitchell's account could not be immediately corroborated. The U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed that Dali underwent engine maintenance during its time in Baltimore, but an official said Wednesday that the engine work was believed to be routine in nature. 

In a press conference Wednesday, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said that her team was aware of this media report, and that it will be looked into as part of the agency's fact-finding investigation.