Hope in the heartbreak: First responders bravely kept cars from Baltimore bridge moments before collapse

Rescue boat arrives at site of Francis Scott Key bridge collapse in Baltimore

This morning, tragedy rocked Baltimore, Maryland when the Francis Scott Key Bridge was struck by a passing cargo ship and collapsed. 

At the time of publication, eight people — all construction workers who were on the bridge working on pothole repairs — were believed to have fallen into the frigid waters of the Patapsco River upon the bridge’s collapse.

While search and rescue is underway, and two people have already been rescued, viewers at home can breathe a small sigh of relief knowing that first responders were able to keep even more people from falling into the depths below.

Rescue boat arrives at site of Francis Scott Key bridge collapse in Baltimore
Photo courtesy of Baltimore City Fire Department Rescue 1 Team

A mayday call was issued right before the container ship struck a pillar of the bridge, which Maryland Governor Wes Moore says “saved lives” ahead of the collapse early Tuesday morning. 

Because of the crew’s swift action, local authorities were immediately notified of a power issue, and officials were able to stop some vehicles from crossing the bridge before the ship made contact with the bridge. 

“Once notification came up that there was a mayday, literally by being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge,” Moore said in a press conference this morning. 

“These people are heroes. They saved lives.”

Francis Scott Key bridge collapses on a cargo ship in Baltimore
Photo courtesy of Baltimore City Fire Department Rescue 1 Team

As experts piece together the full timeline of the accident, the governor is clear that there was enough time to allow police to stop traffic on Interstate 695, which prevented “at least some” vehicles from being on the bridge as it snapped and gave way.

According to FOX 10 Phoenix, Key Bridge carries the interstate across the river east of downtown Baltimore, with as many as 35,000 people crossing each day. 

“We’re thankful that between the mayday and the collapse, we had officials who were able to begin to stop the flow of traffic so more cars were not up on the bridge,” Moore continued.

Early indications suggest that because of this closure, no traffic was crossing the bridge when it collapsed. Some vehicles used by the road crew that had been parked on the bridge have appeared to plunge into the water, but it remains unclear how many vehicles or passengers were impacted.

At the time of publication, the search continues to piece together what exactly happened — and save the lives of at least six other missing people.

Baltimore City Fire Department Rescue 1 Team

Gov. Moore has declared a state of emergency and said the local government is working to deploy federal resources. The Maryland Transportation Authority said all lanes were closed in both directions on I-695.

“The investigation is still going on to find out how many people were in that situation, but the thing that we do know is that many of the vehicles were stopped before they got on to the bridge, which saved lives in a very, very heroic way,” Gov. Moore said.

“We are thankful for the brave men and women who are carrying out efforts to rescue those involved and pray for everyone's safety.”

Header photo courtesy of Baltimore City Fire Department Rescue 1 Team

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March 26, 2024 9:33 AM
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