Officials Identify 2 Bridge Collapse Victims by I.D. and Fingerprint

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Under the center span of the collapsed Baltimore bridge, divers on Wednesday morning found a red pickup truck with the bodies of two men, the first victims to be recovered during a two-day search that has been complicated by the bridge’s twisted debris and bad weather.

Now, officials say they will need to pause the recovery effort altogether — with four more victims not yet found — so that pieces of the crumpled bridge can first be removed from the Patapsco River.

Col. Roland Butler, who leads the Maryland State Police, said officials understood the importance of giving closure to the families of the six construction workers presumed dead after a cargo ship slammed into the bridge, the Francis Scott Key, early Tuesday. But, he said, other vehicles that fell from the bridge — possibly with the construction workers inside — are trapped behind debris that makes the area too dangerous for divers.

“We have exhausted all search efforts in the area around this wreckage, and based on sonar scans, we firmly believe that the vehicles are encased in the superstructure and concrete that we tragically saw come down,” he said.

For now, Colonel Butler said, the authorities would focus on cleaning up the debris.

“Once that salvage effort takes place, and that superstructure is removed, those same divers are going to go back out there and bring those people closure,” he said of the victims’ families.

Barges, including some with cranes, are already on the way to the collapse scene to pull the mangled structure from the river, the Coast Guard said.

The two men who were found on Wednesday morning are Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, who lived just outside the city. Mr. Hernandez was originally from Mexico, and Mr. Castillo from Guatemala.

Officials said one of the victims was identified by a driver’s license found with him, and another by his fingerprints.

Both men, as well as the four still missing, were doing maintenance work on the bridge when a large cargo ship barreled into a support pier, bringing the span down into the river below at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland said that divers started the search for victims less than an hour after the bridge collapsed. He said officials have been taking the recovery part of the search as seriously as they took the rescue effort, when they believed the missing victims might have still been alive.

Jacey Fortin contributed reporting.


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