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Key Bridge Collapse Survivor Relives Plunge All the Time: Report

Key Bridge Collapse Survivor Relives Plunge All the Time: Report

The sole survivor of the Key Bridge collapse has spoken publicly for the first time. Here’s how he survived and how the loss of his cousin still haunts him.



BALTIMORE, MD — The sole survivor of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse spoke out publicly for the first time in a story published Wednesday.

Julio Cervantes Suarez, 37, told NBC that he saw his six fellow road workers fall to their deaths into the Patapsco River nearly four months ago. Cervantes Suarez survived by rolling down the manual window of his truck. NBC said Cervantes Suarez, who can’t swim, fought to the surface and climbed onto a piece of floating concrete rubble before activating his helmet’s flashlight to alert rescuers.

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“I relive it over and over again, the minutes before the fall and when I fall,” Cervantez Suarez told NBC in Spanish.

These other crew members, who were on a break from filling holes in the bridge, were killed when the cargo ship Dali lost power and crashed into the bridge on March 26:

  • José Mynor Lopez
  • Alejandro Hernández Fuentes
  • Dorlian Ronald Castillo Cabrera
  • Mayor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval
  • Carlos Daniel Hernández Estrella
  • Miguel Angel Luna Gonzalez

Cervantez Suarez told NBC he still has pain in his chest, left knee and foot, but the emotional toll is much greater.

NBC reported that Cervantez Suarez told his crewmate nephew, Hernandez Estrella, to get in the truck and rest, but he didn’t.

“If I had told him to come with me, maybe it would have been different. Maybe he would have been here with us,” Cervantez Suarez told NBC.

Maryland Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen asked a congressional committee Wednesday to support their bill that would require the federal government to cover 100 percent of the cost of rebuilding the bridge. The White House also urged Congress to fully fund the replacement bridge.

According to the Baltimore Banner, the federal government typically pays 80 to 90 percent of the cost of rebuilding emergency infrastructure, with the state paying the rest. Sometimes Congress will pay for the entire project if it is critical enough, but some senators are skeptical about paying for the entire replacement.

If approved, the federal government would receive all insurance payments from the bridge and any money from the legal settlement, The Banner reported. Supporters argue that the provision would offset the added cost of footing the entire bill instead of the usual 80 or 90 percent majority.

Want to see the full interview with Cervantez Suarez? Read NBC’s exclusive story.

Read all the news about the Key Bridge collapse by Patch here.

Four tugs and a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat escorted the Dali out of Baltimore Harbor on June 24. The Dali passed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which temporarily halted traffic as a precaution. The ship is now in Norfolk, Virginia, for repairs.

The 1,000-foot container ship had been in Baltimore since March 26 when it lost power and crashed into the Key Bridge, killing six workers and displacing more than 1,100 people at the port.

The National Transportation Safety Board reported on June 24 that two faulty circuit breakers caused the first power outage aboard the Dali.

In April, Baltimore filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to hold the owner of the freighter fully liable for the bridge collapse.

Both the city and county of Baltimore have hired law firms to represent the jurisdictions in the legal fallout from the disaster. The FBI is also investigating possible wrongdoing.

Ten crew members of the Dali were recently cleared to leave the U.S., WJZ reported June 24. WJZ reported that the remaining 11 crew members, who are officers and senior members, will remain in Baltimore temporarily because of the ongoing lawsuit.

The crew comes from India and Sri Lanka.

Cleanup efforts began on March 30 and at its peak required nearly 1,600 workers.

The first of three temporary alternative channels for shallow-draft vessels opened on April 2. Recreational vessels were allowed to sail again on May 9.

On May 13, the Dali was freed from a 10-million-pound Key Bridge segment on its bow using controlled explosives.

All ships have been able to return to port through a 400-foot-wide, 50-foot-deep channel since May 20, when crews refloated and moved the Dali after it had been grounded for 55 days.

On June 4, crews removed the last major piece of bridge debris blocking the Patapsco River. They later conducted surveys and retrieved smaller debris before reopening the entire channel on June 10.

The partial reopening of the canal on May 20 exceeded the state’s original target of May 31, but the full reopening on June 10 fell just short of that goal.

Trade leaders expect port traffic to resume soon, but they also warn that the trucking industry will struggle until the bridge is rebuilt.

Officials estimate the new crossing will open in the fall of 2028 and cost up to $1.9 billion. President Joe Biden (D) has pledged that the federal government would pay for the entire project.

The Maryland Transportation Authority announced May 31 that it is accepting proposals from contractors to rebuild the bridge. Proposals are due June 24. The project team will be selected in late summer.

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