FBI opens criminal investigation into Baltimore bridge collapse that killed six people

Federal agents boarded the Dali container ship on Monday morning to begin conducting ‘court-authorised law enforcement activity’

Ariana Baio
Monday 15 April 2024 15:20 BST
Moment bridge in Baltimore collapses after ship collision

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has opened a criminal investigation into the massive container ship that struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the 1.6-mile long structure to collapse.

On Monday, FBI agents in Baltimore boarded the Dali container ship to conduct “court-authorised law enforcement activity,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

The ship struck the bridge in the early hours of 26 March after suddenly losing power, causing eight people to fall into the Patapsco River. Six of those people died.

The investigation will allegedly examine whether or not the crew knew the vessel had problems before leaving the port, officials familiar with the matter told The Washington Post

The FBI’s criminal investigation is separate from the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation to determine the cause of the crash and safety measures.

A spokesperson for the FBI in Baltimore said they had no other public information or comment available at this time.

In an aerial view, salvage crews continue to remove wreckage from the cargo ship
In an aerial view, salvage crews continue to remove wreckage from the cargo ship (Getty Images)

In March, the nearly 1,000-foot-long cargo ship struck the bridge just moments after departing from a port in Baltimore. The vessel suddenly lost power, leading the crew to issue a mayday call.

However, Dali was moving at a “very, very rapid speed”, according to Maryland Governor Wes Moore. It then crashed into the bridge, causing it to split and collapse.

Construction workers managed to stop vehicles from passing across the Francis Scott Key Bridge as Dali approached. Six of those construction workers fell into the water and died.

The NTSB’s independent investigation is expected to release a preliminary report in a few weeks. The agency retrieved the cargo ship’s black box – the voyage data recorder – which could help provide specific location and time details and other insights regarding the ship’s loss of power.

A final report could take up to two years to produce.

In the meantime, local and state officials – with support from federal funding – are working swiftly to remove debris from the crash and begin reconstruction efforts on the bridge.

President Joe Biden has directed the federal government to provide as much support as needed to help rebuild the bridge.

Opened in 1977, the Francis Scott Key Bridge is a crucial part of US shipping transportation and spans one of the busiest shipping routes in the US.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in