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Six construction workers presumed dead after Baltimore bridge collapse

DCR staff writer

Investigations and recovery work are continuing following the collapse of the The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after it was struck by a container ship — sending vehicles into the water.

Six construction workers have died and two people have been rescued, authorities say.

President Biden has promised federal funds “to pay for the entire cost of reconstructing” the bridge, and said he would visit Baltimore “as soon as I can.”

According to a report by Associated Press, a construction worker with Brawner Builders said his missing co-workers were on a break when the bridge collapsed at about 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Brawner Builders Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pritzker confirmed they are presumed to have died given the water’s depth and the amount of time that has passed since the incident.

“This was so completely unforeseen,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know what else to say. We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers. But we never foresaw that the bridge would collapse.”

One worker was hospitalized.

The company said a crew was filling potholes near the middle of the bridge at the time.

“This was so completely unforeseen,” the company CEO is quoted saying. “We don’t know what else to say. We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers. But we never foresaw that the bridge would collapse.”

The Maryland Transportation Authority first responder radio traffic includes a dispatcher putting out a call saying a ship had lost its steering ability and asking officers to stop all traffic. It took officers less than two minutes to stop traffic on the bridge.

An officer radioed that he was going to drive onto the bridge to notify the construction crew once a second officer arrived. But seconds later, a frantic officer radioed that the bridge had collapsed.

Vice President Kamala Harris said the federal resources will be used to “assist with the search and rescue, to reopen the port, and to rebuild the bridge as quickly as possible. And of course, I know we all will stand and continue to stand with the people of Maryland,” Harris said.

The bridge carried an estimated 30,800 vehicles a day on average in 2019. According to the Maryland Transportation Authority, that translates to about 11.3 million vehicles a year across the bridge, which was built in the 1970s and was 1.6 miles long.

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