Missing Baltimore Bridge Workers Weren't Informed of Mayday Call

“We have people who love us, who wait for us to come home.”

Maximillian Alvarez

In this aerial image, the steel frame of the Francis Scott Key Bridge sits on top of a container ship after the bridge collapsed, Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

On the morning of March 26, the city of Baltimore woke to find the Francis Scott Key Bridge in ruins. The iconic bridge collapsed after being struck by the shipping container vessel Dali, which lost power as it was leaving the Port of Baltimore. Six construction workers who were filling potholes on the bridge at the time of its collapse are still missing, and presumed dead. According to Jesus Campos, a coworker of the missing men, the crew on site at the Key Bridge was not informed of the mayday call before the bridge went down. The Real News reports from the scene in Baltimore.

Maximillian Alvarez: This is Maximillian Alvarez for The Real News Network, reporting from Baltimore. It’s about 1PM on Tuesday, March 26. I’m standing in front of the place where the Francis Scott Key Bridge used to be, just up the drive behind me.

We’re all in a bit of shock here in Baltimore, and there’s still a lot that we’re trying to learn and investigate as we speak, and our hearts right now are with the families of the six people who, as of right now, remain unaccounted for, though search and rescue operations have been underway since early this morning.

As Hayes Gardner and Christine Condon reported this morning in the Baltimore Sun:

In the middle of the night, a massive, driftless container ship traveling 9 mph issued a mayday” as it traversed toward the iconic Francis Scott Key Bridge. The ship had departed the Port of Baltimore only 30 minutes prior, but as it tried to navigate the channel, it lost power before colliding with a support column, causing a din that could be heard ashore and immediately toppling the essential mid-Atlantic thoroughfare into the frigid waters below.

Several cars were knocked into the Patapsco River and, as of Tuesday around 11 a.m., authorities were still searching for six unaccounted-for construction workers who had been repairing potholes at the time. Two others were rescued — one who was hospitalized and another who refused transport. Extensive rescue efforts are ongoing.

Baltimore awoke Tuesday to the tragedy: a state of emergency declared by both the mayor and governor, search-and-rescue efforts for those missing, a bridge disappeared.

Before the collision, the ship’s crew notified authorities that the vessel had lost power. That mayday” allowed Maryland Transportation Authority Police on the highway above to prevent many cars from driving onto the bridge just before the catastrophe.”

“For a month we’ve been working on the bridge and then we were changed to days. It could have been us that that happened to on that bridge.”

Maximillian Alvarez:
I only have two questions. Firstly, can you tell me a bit about yourself, the work you do, and your connection to the project on the bridge?

Jesus Campos: Yes, my name is Jesus Campos. I work for the company, for the State of Maryland, and the men who fell into the water, they are coworkers of mine, friends of mine. I know them.

Maximillian Alvarez: I’m very sorry man, I can’t imagine the pain you’re feeling right now. And what do we know about the men who were working on the bridge last night, the job they were doing, and if they were notified of the incoming crash?

Jesus Campos: We work on the bridge doing concrete repair. We repair potholes by replacing damaged concrete with new concrete. That’s what we do for the company.

Maximillian Alvarez: At night when there are less cars?

Jesus Campos: Yes, less traffic at night. They work from 9 at night until about 5 in the morning in the area they are assigned. They worked that shift and area for a while, and nothing like this has ever happened.

Maximillian Alvarez: Yes, this was a horrible disaster. Do you know if the workers received a warning before the crash?

Jesus Campos: No, no they did not. I am of the understanding that they were on their half hour break given during the shift. They were in the trucks, 4 or 5 that were in that location. They were supposedly in the trucks.

Maximillian Alvarez: One more question please. What can the people of Baltimore do to support yourself, your coworkers, and the families of the workers, our people?

Jesus Campos: It’s a very difficult situation, what is happening to us right now. I feel very hurt by what happened. These are the men I work with, my friends. You know, they come to work every night to earn their living. We have people who love us, who wait for us to come home, and to receive devastating news like that of what has happened, it’s very sad. Because imagine, the workers, I don’t know if they’ve been recovered from the water, what’s going on. It’s very hard, what happened. Something where you’re just waiting. I’ve been working on the bridge for a month. For a month we’ve been working on the bridge and then we were changed to days. It could have been us that that happened to on that bridge.

Maximillian Alvarez: Jesus, thank you so much for speaking with me.

Jesus Campos: You’re welcome.

Maximillian Alvarez: Solidarity, brother.

Jesus Campos: This is a very difficult situation. Especially for their families. We all feel it, but not like they do.

Maximillian Alvarez: Thank you so much, friend.

This story originally appeared in The Real News Network.

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Maximillian Alvarez is editor-in-chief at the Real News Network and host of the podcast Working People, available at InThe​se​Times​.com. He is also the author of The Work of Living: Working People Talk About Their Lives and the Year the World Broke.

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