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Baltimore bridge collapse survivor details how he climbed onto floating concrete to await rescue

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Cervantes Suarez said the Dali cargo ship “destroyed six families.”

The National Transportation Safety Board determined in a preliminary report released in May that the 947-foot-long Singapore-flagged cargo ship was transiting out of Baltimore Harbor when it lost power and propulsion before striking the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

The FBI has also been investigating the events that led up to the crash and whether the cargo ship crew knew the vessel had potential mechanical problems that would have made it unsafe to transit in the harbor. 

Cervantes Suarez and the families of multiple workers killed in the bridge collapse are looking to take legal action against the companies involved with the cargo ship.

“Everybody that was involved with this boat is responsible for destroying these eight families’ lives,” said L. Chris Stewart, an attorney who represents Cervantes Suarez and the families of some of the workers who died. “The boat was not seaworthy.”

“It’s an American tragedy,” he said.

“This will never go away and he still has a family to take care of and now a bunch of other people from other families that he has to take care of as well,” said Justin Miller, an attorney who also represents Cervantes Suarez and other families.

The Dali container vessel after striking the Francis Scott Key Bridge that collapsed into the Patapsco River in Baltimore in March. Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

In the days following the bridge collapse, the ship’s Singapore-based owner and manager petitioned a Maryland court to limit their monetary liability for the collapse to $43.67 million.

The city of Baltimore said in a legal filing in late April against the cargo ship’s owner, Grace Ocean Private Ltd., and operator, Synergy Marine Pte Ltd., that “negligence caused them to destroy the Key Bridge, and singlehandedly shut down the Port of Baltimore, a source of jobs, municipal revenue, and no small amount of pride for the City of Baltimore and its residents.”

“None of this should have happened. Reporting has indicated that, even before leaving port, alarms showing an inconsistent power supply on the Dali had sounded. The Dali left port anyway, despite its clearly unseaworthy condition,” the city said in the filing. 

In response to the ship owner and operator’s claim for limited liability, the city said the incident was “caused by the unseaworthiness of the Dali and the negligence of the vessel’s crew and shoreside management” and that therefore, the requests for a limitation of liability should be denied.

Cervantes Suarez said he hopes people remember those who died.

“I knew all of them, they were families. They were good people, good workers and had good values,” he said.

Cervantes Suarez said he does not know why he survived the bridge collapse. 

“I think maybe there is still a goal for me,” he said.

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