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Divers Recover Fifth Body From Wreckage of Baltimore's Key Bridge

Key Bridge
A commercial hardhat diver at the Key Bridge site. A separate dive team with the Maryland State Police handled the recovery (USACE)

Published May 2, 2024 4:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

Divers have recovered a fifth body from the wreckage of the Francis Key Bridge, bringing the number of missing people down to one. Six workers who were repairing potholes went missing when the bridge collapsed and are all presumed dead; one survived the fall with serious injuries. 

The Unified Command said that it found another construction vehicle belonging to the road repair crew on the bottom, and it passed the location on to the search and recovery dive team of the Maryland State Police. (The police authority is tasked with carrying out the respectful recovery of human remains, and maintains a dive team on standby.) The authorities identified the victim as Miguel Angel Luna Gonzalez, 49.

"Along with our local, state and federal partners, we ask that everyone extend their deepest sympathies and support to the families during this difficult time," said state police superintendent Colonel Roland L. Butler, Jr., in a statement Thursday. 

Butler previously said that there were inaccessible areas of the wreckage that could contain the remains of the missing. The police were aware of these potential areas of interest and were waiting for the salvage teams to make enough progress so that they could safely gain access. 

Separately, authorities have released the first formal estimate of the cost of replacing the Key Bridge. Early projections suggest that the price will come in around $1.9 billion, and that construction will take until 2028. The next and biggest question is about who will pay for the damage. The White House and the state of Maryland would like the federal government to bear the full cost up front, then recoup damages from the vessel's owners and insurers later through a civil court process. 

One insurer has already agreed to pay in full: Chubb, the company that insured the structure of the bridge. The firm said Thursday that it will pay the state $350 million, the maximum limit on the policy. Chubb will then join the growing number of litigants who want to recover damages from the shipowner, Grace Ocean Ltd., which has filed in federal court to limit its liability. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also opened a criminal inquiry into whether laws were broken when Dali set sail. If grounds were found for a grand jury indictment, criminal charges would provide a parallel opportunity for the federal government to recover damages, either through a trial or a negotiated settlement agreement.