Central American and Mexican families mourn the Baltimore bridge collapse missing workers

Shown is the wreckage of Francis Scott Key Bridge as seen from Dundalk, Md., on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, Recovery efforts resumed Wednesday for the construction workers who are presumed dead after the cargo ship hit a pillar of the bridge, causing the structure to collapse. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Shown is the wreckage of Francis Scott Key Bridge as seen from Dundalk, Md., on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, Recovery efforts resumed Wednesday for the construction workers who are presumed dead after the cargo ship hit a pillar of the bridge, causing the structure to collapse. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

AZACUALPA, Honduras (AP) — The construction workers who went missing in the Baltimore bridge collapse all hailed from Mexico or Central America before they settled in the Maryland area.

Police managed to close bridge traffic seconds before a cargo ship slammed into one of the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s supports early Tuesday, causing the span to fall into the frigid Patapsco River. There wasn’t time for a maintenance crew filling potholes on the span to get to safety.

At least eight people fell into the water and two were rescued. The other six are missing and presumed dead, but the search continued Wednesday.

The governments of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras confirmed that their citizens were among the missing.

Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, 39, was the youngest of eight siblings from Azacualpa, a rural mountainous area in northwestern Honduras along the border with Guatemala.

Eighteen years ago, he set out on his own for the U.S. looking for opportunities. He entered illegally and settled in Maryland, where he eventually started a business, one of his brothers, Martín Suazo Sandoval, said Wednesday while standing in the dirt street in front of the family’s small hotel in Honduras. He said his brother was entrepreneurial and hard-working.

Other siblings and relatives followed him north.

“He was the fundamental pillar, the bastion so that other members of the family could also travel there and later get visas and everything,” Martín Suazo Sandoval said. “He was really the driving force so that most of the family could travel.”

The pandemic forced Maynor to find other work, and he joined Brawner Builders, the company that was performing maintenance on the bridge when it collapsed.

Things had been going well for him until the collapse. He was moving through the steps to get legal residency and planned to return to Honduras this year to complete the process, his brother said.

Maynor’s employer broke the news of his disappearance to his family, leaving them devastated, especially his mother, who still lives in Azacualpa, Martín Suazo Sandoval said.

“These are difficult moments, and the only thing we can do is keep the faith,” he said, noting that his younger brother knew how to swim and could have ended up anywhere. If the worst outcome is confirmed, he said the family would work to return his body to Honduras.

In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said three Mexicans were on the bridge when it fell, including one who was injured but rescued and two who were still missing. He said he wouldn’t share their names for the families’ privacy.

The tragedy illustrated the contributions that migrants make to the U.S. economy, López Obrador said.

“This demonstrates that migrants go out and do risky jobs at midnight. And for this reason, they do not deserve to be treated as they are by certain insensitive, irresponsible politicians in the United States,” he said.

Guatemala’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that two of its citizens were among the missing. And El Salvador’s foreign minister, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, posted Wednesday on X that one Salvadoran citizen, Miguel Luna, was among the missing workers.

Federal and state investigators have said the crash appears to have been an accident.

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Associated Press reporters Sonia Pérez D. in Guatemala City, Marcos Aléman in San Salvador, El Salvador, and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report.

AP U.S. News

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