Survivor of Baltimore Key Bridge collapse gives first report
Survivor of Baltimore Key Bridge collapse gives first report

Julio Cervantes Suarez sat in his truck with six other construction workers in their own vehicles in the early hours of March 26, taking a break from repairing potholes on the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

Then the 390-meter-long container ship “Dali” crashed into one of the bridge’s supporting pillars. The 37-year-old saw his colleagues disappear into the Patapsco River below.

After his own vehicle crashed into the water, Cervantes Suarez said he could not open doors and had to manually roll down the windows to escape. He said he climbed out of the wreckage onto a concrete slab and waited for the rescue workers.

Cervantes Suarez, one of two survivors, described the tragic incident in his first interview with NBC News. The footage aired Wednesday.

In the interview, Cervantes Suarez recalled the search for the other workers.

“I started calling each one of them by name,” he said in Spanish. “But no one answered me.”

He said Carlos Daniel Hernández, his nephew, whom he considered a son, was the first to fall.

Cervantes Suarez told NBC that he didn’t think he would survive the fall.

“I thanked God for the family he gave me,” he said. “I asked him to take care of my wife and children. And I asked him to forgive me for everything I had done.”

Cervantes Suarez, who told NBC he was still in physical pain, said he was tormented by the fact that he told Hernández to go to his car and rest.

“If I had told him to come with us, maybe it would have been different. Maybe he would be here with us now,” Cervantes Suarez told the network.

Federal investigators are still looking into the cause of the crash, which brought most commerce to a halt at the Port of Baltimore and raised questions about whether federal and state authorities are prepared to prevent similar disruptions. The FBI is currently conducting a separate, criminal investigation to determine whether the Dali’s crew knew about serious system problems before they departed.

Cervantes Suarez said he wants everyone responsible to “pay for the damage they caused,” including the family of his brother-in-law, Hernández Fuentes. But, he told NBC, nothing can bring back what his family and others lost overnight.

“Because I know that money can’t buy a hug from a father or a son,” he said.

By Everly