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Wife of Baltimore bridge collapse survivor says it’s a ‘miracle’ he lived since he can’t swim

The wife of Julio Cervantes, one of two people rescued after the bridge collapse, spoke about how he survived after plunging into the Patapsco River.
/ Source: TODAY

The wife of one of the construction workers who survived the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore is opening up about how lucky her husband is to be alive, since he doesn't know how to swim.

Julio Cervantes was among the eight construction workers on the bridge when a cargo ship crashed into a pillar, causing the bridge to collapse into the Patapsco River on March 26.

He and another man were rescued, while the bodies of two others, identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, were recovered on March 27.

The remaining four people have not been found, but were presumed dead, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

“All of the men were on a break in their cars when the boat hit. We don’t know if they were warned before the impact,” Cervantes’ wife, who did not disclose her name, told NBC News on March 28.

“My husband doesn’t know how to swim. It is a miracle he survived,” she added.

Cervantes’ wife said that her brother-in-law was one of the two men whose bodies were recovered, but did not give his name. She also said her nephew was among those still missing. 

“We haven’t been able to sleep, waiting for word if they’re going to find a relative,” she said.

The mother of Hernandez Fuentes, meanwhile, was shocked by her son's death.

“I have a deep pain in my heart; I don’t know how to describe it,” Obdulia Fuentes Ortiz told NBC4 Washington on March 28.

She said she received a call from her daughter-in-law letting her know there had been an accident.

“At the moment I didn’t imagine it would have been so serious,” she said. “(But) when I got there and saw the broken bridge, I felt a strong pain in my heart.”

A recovery mission was called off on March 28 due to dangerous conditions, officials said.

Dive teams recovered two bodies from a red pickup truck about 25 feet under the Patapsco River on March 27 before the mission was turned into a salvage operation.

The bodies of the victims were identified as 35-year-old Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes and 26-year-old Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera. Four others were presumed dead.

"At this point we do not believe that we‘re going to find any of these individuals still alive,’" Coast Guard Adm. Shannon Gilbreath said during a press conference on March 26.

A 985-foot vessel hit the bridge early Tuesday morning, causing it to collapse in seconds. Two people were rescued — one in good condition who refused treatment, and another who was seriously injured and in critical condition.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said on TODAY on March 27 he had met with the victims' families, and described the six workers as "people who simply just went to work yesterday to work on potholes."

"They had no idea that them going to work was going to turn to a deadly occurrence," Moore said. "When I had a chance to speak with their families and pray with them, for their families, they just reminded me of who they were as people. They were fathers. They were sons. They were husbands. They were people who their families relied on."

Moore said he made a commitment to the families to put all their resources behind a search and rescue mission.

"Now that we transition to a recovery mission, I'm going to make sure that we're gonna put every possible resource to bring a sense of closure to these families," he said.

U.S. officials have not publicly identified the victims of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, but the Guatemala Ministry of Foreign Affairs said two Guatemalans were among the missing.

Although the ministry did not identify the two people, it said they were 25 and 36 years old and originally from San Luis and Camotán, respectively.

"Among the six workers who are still missing, it is believed that there are people of Mexican origin, from Honduras, El Salvador and the two Guatemalans," the ministry said in a statement translated by NBC News. "They all worked for a company that confirmed the event to the Maryland Department of Transit."

The Consular Section of the Mexico Embassy in the U.S. also said in a statement on X the workers included Mexican, Guatemalan and El Salvadoran people, according to a NBC News translation.

María del Carmen Castellón told NBC News affiliate Telemundo 44 she was the wife of Miguel Luna, whom she said was one of the employees that would have been working on the bridge when it collapsed.

Miguel Luna
Miguel Luna was one of the employees that would have been working on the bridge when it collapsed, his wife said.Miguel Luna via Facebook

"They only tell us that we have to wait, that for now, they can’t give us information," she told Telemundo 44 on March 26.

Castellón said her husband was a 49-year-old construction worker and father of six from El Salvador.

"(We feel) devastated, devastated because our heart is broken, because we don’t know if they’ve rescued them yet," she said. "We’re just waiting to hear any news."

Maynor Suazo, a father of two originally from Honduras, was also believed to be missing, his brother told NBC News.

Maynor Suazo
Maynor Suazo, a father of two originally from Honduras, was also believed to be missing, his brother said.YouTube

"The hope we have is to be able to see the body," Suazo’s brother said. "We want to see him, find him, know whether he is dead, because we don’t know anything."

Suazo’s family was informed of his disappearance between 3 and 4 a.m. on March 26, but had not heard any updates as of Tuesday evening.