Baltimore Bridge Collapse Update: 6 Construction Workers Presumed Dead

Rescue efforts after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse are ongoing, but given the amount of time that has passed and the temperature and depth of the water, the six construction workers who fell into the Patapsco River are presumed dead by their employer, Brawner Builders.

“We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers,” said a senior executive of the company in a statement. “But we never foresaw that the bridge would collapse.”

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was struck by a cargo ship at about 1:30 a.m. on March 26, 2024. The Dali, owned by Grace Ocean and operated by Synergy Marine Group, lost propulsion before the collision and issued a mayday signal, which allowed authorities to halt oncoming traffic to the bridge, but the construction workers had no warning.

According to radio traffic from the Maryland Transportation Authority, an officer was about to drive onto the bridge to warn the workers when it collapsed. Eight workers fell into the water. Two were rescued, but the other six have not yet been found.

The crew was filling potholes on the Francis Scott Key Bridge at the time of the accident.

What Caused the Ship to Hit the Francis Key Scott Bridge?

Container vessels like the Dali are subject to ongoing inspections to ensure their seaworthiness. Although the ship’s most recent inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard in September 2023 found no deficiencies, a June 2023 inspection by a port in Chile uncovered an issue with the vessel’s “propulsion and auxiliary machinery.”

Some have also speculated that the construction of the bridge may have attributed to the severity of the accident. According to a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, the Francis Scott Key Bridge did not appear to have pier protection, which could have provided protection from a collision of this magnitude.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA), however, had rated the bridge as satisfactory in its latest national bridge inventory, which was released in June 2023.

Only a complete inspection of the conditions of both the Dali and the Francis Scott Key Bridge will reveal what caused the vessel to lose power and whether the bridge was constructed properly.

We will continue to follow the details of this incident and ongoing investigation as they develop.

Offshore/Maritime Injuries
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