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‘I consider myself lucky’: Man was one of the last people to escape Baltimore bridge before it collapsed


Just after 1 a.m. on March 26, Larry DeSantis was heading to work at Herman’s Bakery in the Baltimore area, the midpoint of another long but normal work day. .

When a ship and Francis Scott Key Bridgewith disastrous consequences, leading to shocking collapses and deaths that day.

DeSantis said he believed he was one of the last people to get off the bridge before the fatal collision. In an interview with CNN, he recalled driving across the bridge and “focusing on the people on the bridge” and trying to carefully maneuver around them, DeSantis told CNN.

“I really didn’t see the ship at all. I was just focused on what was in front of me.”

The only sign that something was wrong was what DeSantis said was a lack of vehicles, even early in the morning.

“There was another vehicle behind me,” he said, “and it was a tractor, but he didn’t have a trailer because I was actually in front of him when we started crossing the bridge.”

Traffic camera video from the last five minutes before the collision shows a vehicle that may match DeSantis’ vehicle and time, and appears to be followed by a truck without a trailer, although the video is not entirely clear.

Only six cars had passed through the lane before the 984-foot-long container ship struck one of the bridge’s pillars at 1:29 a.m.

Collapsed vehicles and people fell into the icy Patapsco River. six workers People who were repairing potholes on the bridge were reported missing after the incident; the bodies of two of them have been found. Four others are presumed dead.

“If I had stopped for one minute to talk to someone, one of my colleagues, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” DeSantis said.

Minutes after crossing the bridge, another one of DeSantis’ workplaces called to check on him.

“About two minutes later, someone called me and said, ‘Where are you?’ It was my other work number,” he said. “I said I just crossed the bridge and they said ‘Well, you know, the bridge just collapsed.'”

The scene after the Singapore-flagged container ship Dali collided with a pillar of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.  -Harford County MD Fire & EMS/Reuters

The scene after the Singapore-flagged container ship Dali collided with a pillar of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. -Harford County MD Fire & EMS/Reuters

DeSantis said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

Once at work, he said, a co-worker told him, “‘I’m glad to see your truck there,’ because they thought I might have been on that bridge.”

He almost is.

This undated photo shows Larry DeSantis driving across the Francis Scott Key Bridge. - Contributed by Kristina DeSantis GeinederThis undated photo shows Larry DeSantis driving across the Francis Scott Key Bridge. - Contributed by Kristina DeSantis Geineder

This undated photo shows Larry DeSantis driving across the Francis Scott Key Bridge. – Contributed by Kristina DeSantis Geineder

“I’ve been very tired this week from working so long hours, but it makes you think a lot, it really does,” he said. “I can’t believe it’s happened. I consider myself very lucky.”

DeSantis, who has been in the Baltimore area his entire life, remembers only one time when he looked out toward the Patapsco River and didn’t see the bridge: “I remember when they were building the bridge,” he said.

Francis Scott Island opened in 1977 and serves 30,000 Marylanders daily. The port, the nation’s ninth-largest international cargo port, is now clogged with debris. Ships can still pass through the Port of Baltimore, which handled $80.8 billion worth of foreign cargo volume in 2023, According to the state government – But larger cargo will have to wait until the bridge debris is cleared.

as Debris removal begins Over the weekend, officials said they were preparing to open a temporary alternate channel to allow commercially essential ships to reach the port.

“By opening this alternate route, we will support marine traffic into Baltimore,” Capt. David O’Connell, federal on-site coordinator for the bridge collapse response, said in a statement. Press Releases Sunday.

Now, when DeSantis looks out and sees the river where the landmark once stood, he feels the same way as many of his fellow Marylanders.

“It’s hard to believe it’s gone.”

CNN’s Zoe Sottile contributed to this report.

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