Fourth Body Recovered From Submerged Vehicle After Maryland Bridge Collapse

The individual was found inside a construction vehicle during ongoing efforts to clear debris from the Baltimore channel, officials said Monday.

A fourth body has been recovered from the underwater wreckage of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, authorities announced Monday, as the FBI and private attorneys continue to investigate why a container ship crashed into and demolished the bridge last month.

The body was found trapped inside a submerged construction vehicle during efforts to clear debris from the channel. The individual was identified Monday but their name is being withheld from the public at the family’s request, the Maryland Joint Information Center, which is coordinating response and recovery efforts, said in a statement.

“Two victims do remain unaccounted for. There is no guarantee that the remaining two will be found, so compassion for and support for the families of the missing is our main focus when potential victims of the collapse are found,” a representative for the emergency response center said in an email to HuffPost Tuesday.

A cargo ship is seen stuck under pieces of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after its collision on March 26.
A cargo ship is seen stuck under pieces of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after its collision on March 26.
via Associated Press

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott and fellow government officials on Monday expressed their condolences to the victims’ friends and family and reaffirmed their pledge to provide whatever aid is needed to them.

“Our hearts continue to break for the loved ones of these victims,” Scott said in a statement. “As I have said from the very first moment, we will continue to do everything in our power to support these families, and provide whatever they need to persevere through this unthinkable tragedy.”

News of the fourth corpse’s recovery came the same day that both the FBI and attorneys for victims’ families announced their own independent investigations into the March 26 accident.

The city of Baltimore also said Monday that it has hired two law firms as it considers litigation against the owner, charterer and operator of the container ship that crashed into the bridge. The collision caused the deaths of six construction workers, who were sent plunging into the river below.

“What does justice look like?” attorney L. Chris Stewart, whose Atlanta-based law firm is one of two representing some of the bridge collapse’s victims, said at a press conference Monday. “We don’t know the answer, because what is the value of the six lives that have been destroyed?

Stewart said the construction workers were in their cars, taking a break from their jobs repairing potholes, when the bridge beneath them gave way.

Construction worker Julio Cervantes Suarez, who Stewart’s firm is representing, plunged into the river but managed to escape his vehicle and survive because the windows rolled down manually, Stewart said.

“You can image how frightening that is,” he said of Suarez, who he said couldn’t swim but was able to “hang on” to some debris in the water.

Stewart said his firm is also representing the families of Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes and José Mynor López, who did not survive the incident.

“They died while pursuing the American dream, but this was all preventable, and that is why we’ve been brought in to investigate,” Stewart said. “The thing that’s getting lost right now is the voice of the victims. These people’s lives mattered.”

The container ship, the Dali, was carrying cargo to Sri Lanka when it lost power before colliding with the bridge, authorities said. A source with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Monday that the ship had experienced electrical issues before it left the nearby port, however, triggering alarms on the ship’s refrigerated containers.

Meanwhile, efforts are ongoing to open a temporary channel in the river later this month to allow more commercial traffic to resume. The port’s main channel is expected to open in May.

More than 1,000 tons of steel have been removed from the waterway so far, the AP reported Monday, citing salvage crews.

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