Wife of Baltimore bridge collapse survivor says workers were on break in their cars when bridge came down

BALTIMORE — The wife of one of the construction workers who survived the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse says it’s a miracle he is alive as he doesn’t know how to swim. 

Julio Cervantes was one of eight construction workers on the bridge when the Dali cargo ship’s lights flickered on and off and crashed into a support pillar, sending the bridge into the Patapsco River in the early hours of Tuesday.

He and another man were rescued that day; the bodies of two more were recovered Wednesday. The remaining four have not been found but are presumed dead.

“All of the men were on a break in their cars when the boat hit. We don’t know if they were warned before the impact,” Cervantes’ wife, who did not disclose her name, told NBC News on Thursday.

Mere seconds after the Dali hit the bridge, it appeared to snap and fall into the dark water below.

“My husband doesn’t know how to swim. It is a miracle he survived,” the wife said.

Cervantes was taken to the hospital with a chest wound and was released the same day, his wife said. The other worker rescued Tuesday was in good condition and refused treatment, authorities previously said.

The remains of Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, were recovered by searchers in the Port of Baltimore Wednesday morning. They were found in a red pickup truck trapped under 25 feet of water near what was once the middle of the bridge.

Hernandez Fuentes, 35, was from Mexico and lived in Baltimore; Castillo Cabrera, 26, was from Guatemala and lived in Dundalk, Maryland.

Cervantes’ wife said that her brother-in-law was one of the two men whose bodies were recovered Wednesday, but did not share his name. She said her entire family is of Mexican origin, and her nephew is among the still missing. 

“We haven’t been able to sleep, waiting for word if they’re going to find a relative,” she said.

Audio from dispatch radio, published by Broadcastify, captured the moment police officers rushed to stop traffic and close the bridge — a move that likely saved countless lives — and called for a warning to the crew working on the bridge. 

An officer on the dispatch audio said, “I’m not sure where, there’s a crew up there you might want to notify, whoever the foreman is, see if we can get them off the bridge temporarily.” 

Another officer replied saying that once another police unit arrives, “I’ll go grab the workers on the Key Bridge.”

But it was too late. Moments later, another officer said over the radio: “The whole bridge just fell down! Start, start … everybody. The whole thing just collapsed.”

The collapse sent shock waves across the country, sparked supply chain concerns and broke the hearts of locals who considered the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which stretches a mile-and-a-half and carries Interstate 695, a city jewel. President Joe Biden has vowed to reconstruct the bridge as soon as possible.

An investigation into what caused the crash and subsequent bridge collapse is underway by the National Transportation Safety Board. It is anticipated to take one to two years.

George Solis reported from Baltimore and Marlene Lenthang from Los Angeles.

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