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  • Writer's pictureArmstrong Williams

Baltimore’s bridge collapse shines a light on the human cost of tragedy

PUBLISHED: March 28, 2024 | baltimoresun.com

An enormous 95,000-ton cargo vessel commenced its 27-day, 9,000-mile voyage to Sri Lanka at approximately 1:27 in the morning from the Port of Baltimore. Not too long after it left the port, the ship then fell momentarily silent as the power was abruptly cut off. Then, suddenly, an audible transmission of a mayday call over the radio was heard by emergency dispatchers warning that a collision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge was imminent.

The Maryland Transportation Authority Police successfully closed the bridge in just two minutes, ensuring that not a single passenger vehicle crossed the span. The ship eventually collided with the bridge.


“C13 dispatch, the whole bridge just fell down!” could be heard on an emergency channel.

The level of coordination exhibited by the ship personnel, emergency dispatch, and law enforcement is astounding and worthy of admiration. However, despite this extraordinary feat of coordination, eight men were still present to repair potholes on the bridge at the time of its collapse. They all fell into the frigid 48-degree water below them.


Two were rescued, one sustained serious injury. Two bodies were recovered. The other four are presumed dead.


It is undeniable that efficient coordination saved a great number of lives on that day; however, even the loss of a single life is too many. As a result of this tragedy, six brave men who have made significant contributions to our community will be laid to rest in Baltimore.

The coverage of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore has been painful to watch.


The horrific devastation has stirred up numerous discussions, namely the lackluster quality of American infrastructure and the questionable maintenance aboard the Dali, the cargo ship that caused this mess. Thankfully, on Tuesday, President Biden issued a statement confirming that the bridge repair will be funded by the federal government. Yet, if not fixed soon, there may be a cascading effect on the Baltimore economy.


However, amidst conversations on structural integrity, ship maintenance, and the economic effects, what seems to be missing from the dialogue so far is the human cost of this calamity.

We frequently engage in a blame game when tragedies of this nature transpire. There is a constant desire to assign blame and ensure that those responsible are held to account. Perhaps there is someone to blame in this instance. But let the investigators worry about that; when we get too caught up in who is responsible, we forget about the people who were harmed — here, the people who tragically fell from the bridge and the thousands of workers who will be out of work as a result of the port closing.


Six men have all but certainly lost their lives. These are not just names on a list. Six families are currently contending with the indescribable burden of grief as a result of the loss of a loved one. Due to this tragic incident, fathers, sons, breadwinners, role models, husbands, and friends were all tragically lost.


Miguel Luna, Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, Dorlian Cabrera, and three others whose names have yet to be disclosed, were all immigrants who came to this country in search of a better life for themselves and for their families. They worked hard not only to provide for their families, but to ensure the safety of those who crossed that bridge, day in and day out. Their loved ones will eternally remember them as individuals who risked their lives by performing perilous labor in order to support their families. That is the highest possible gift a man can bestow upon his family.


In a time when our nation is confronted by the peril of international conflict and internal divisions, we must come together and unify behind this tragedy and give aid where possible.


Armstrong Williams (awilliams@baltsun.com) is a political analyst, syndicated columnist and owner of the broadcasting company, Howard Stirk Holdings. He is also part owner of The Baltimore Sun. This column is one of two he writes monthly about culture and politics, in addition to his weekly Owner’s Box column. 

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