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An international tragedy: A father of 3 and a budding entrepreneur are among 6 victims of the Baltimore bridge collapse

They worked the overnight shift fixing potholes on a famed bridge that 30,000 Marylanders relied on every day. But their work ended in tragedy Tuesday morning when a 213-million-pound cargo vessel crashed into the bridge, plunging the construction workers into the dangerously cold water below.

After a daylong search, officials called off the rescue mission and said six workers were presumed dead. Two bodies – those of Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, from Mexico and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, from Guatemala – have since been recovered from a pickup truck in the water, Maryland State Police said Wednesday.

It was virtually impossible to survive the frigid, 50-foot-deep water after several hours, and it was too dangerous for divers to navigate the dark water amid sharp debris.

Now, the grief has transcended borders.

“We know our people are involved,” Rafael Laveaga, chief of the Mexican Embassy in Washington’s consular section, said. “It was a crew who was repairing parts of the potholes on the bridge, and they’re the ones who are going to build the bridge again – the Latinos.”

As the National Transportation Safety Board shared details about the moments leading up to the collision Wednesday, the agency emphasized its focus on the families of the victims.

“I just want to extend our deepest, deepest condolences. You are in our thoughts and prayers as the days, months, years ahead go forward,” agency Chair Jennifer Homendy said. “Our aim is to prevent this from reoccurring and we are so, so very sorry for all that you are going through.”

Authorities have told the victims’ families that they have not given up on recovery efforts, Carlos Suazo Sandoval, the brother of one of the six who vanished during the bridge collapse, told CNN.

But experts have also been preparing loved ones for what state the bodies could be in, because days have passed days and the remains may have been damaged by debris, the brother said.

One person pulled out alive from the water on Tuesday was a worker from the Mexican state of Michoacan, which said in a statement the three bridge workers from Mexico were related. The bodies of the two other Mexican workers have not been recovered.

The six construction workers were immigrants from four countries – Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala. These are some of their stories:

A father of 2 who juggled multiple jobs

Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval is survived by a wife and two children, his brother said. - Martin Suazo
Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval is survived by a wife and two children, his brother said. - Martin Suazo

Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, 38, moved from Santa Bárbara in Honduras to the US 18 years ago for a better life, his brother Martin Suazo told CNN.

Maynor Suazo was married with two children – an 18-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter, his brother said.

In addition to working as a construction worker, Maynor Suazo also was an entrepreneur who started a maintenance company, his brother said.

Martin Suazo, who lives in Honduras, said his family is grateful for the support is has received from the FBI, the Honduran Embassy in Washington and the governor of Maryland.

One of eight siblings, Maynor Suazo was described by his brother Carlos Suazo, who lives in Baltimore, as a kind and joyful person who had “vision.”

The Suazo family’s priority is to have Maynor’s body found; then they can move on to other worries, including the financial burden Maynor’s family may face, and telling their 72-year-old mother back in Honduras the painful news.

The family plans to repatriate the body to Honduras if found, Carlos Suazo said.

“They have found cars, but they have not yet moved any cars because there is a lot of steel framework, and they must be careful because they are human beings,” the brother said.

“Even if lifeless, we, the family members, need them to rescue the bodies at least to see them and have them handed over to my family, his entire family, the people who are from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and in the case of us, who are Hondurans,” he added.

A father of 3 who called Maryland home for 19 years

Miguel Luna was a husband and father of three. - Obtained by CNN
Miguel Luna was a husband and father of three. - Obtained by CNN

Miguel Luna was a husband and father of three from El Salvador who lived in Maryland for over 19 years, according to the nonprofit CASA.

CASA, which provides critical services to working-class and immigrant families, confirmed in a statement that Luna was on the bridge when it collapsed Tuesday.

“Sadly, we discovered that one of the construction workers involved was a longtime member of our CASA family, adding an even deeper layer of sorrow to this already grievous situation,” CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres said in the statement.

“Miguel Luna, from El Salvador, left at 6:30 p.m. Monday evening for work and … has not come home,” the statement said.

“The entire Baltimore region and CASA family is lamenting this tragedy,” Torres said. “Our hearts ache for the families of the victims and all those impacted by this horrific accident.”

CNN has tried to reach Luna’s family members for more information.

Ratneswar Roychowdhury, a frequent customer of Luna’s wife’s food truck, said he last saw Luna pumping gas on Saturday. Since Luna was not fluent in English, they would communicate via a translation app.

“It’s very sad. Having known him for almost one and a half years… it’s quite disheartening for everyone,” Roychowdhury told CNN while standing outside of the food truck in Glen Burnie, Maryland.

“I’m really feeling sorry for his family. He has… family over here and takes care of all of them. It’s quite sad for his family to know that he is missing.”

A man following his dream to help his family

Dorlian Castillo Cabrera loved his job, his sister-in-law says. - From Dorlian Castillo Cabrera
Dorlian Castillo Cabrera loved his job, his sister-in-law says. - From Dorlian Castillo Cabrera

Dorlian Castillo Cabrera came to the US from Guatemala to pursue his dream and help his mother, Marlon Castillo, his cousin, told CNN.

Pima Castillo, Cabrera’s sister-in-law, said he had been working at Brawner Builders for at least three years and loved his job. He was not married and did not have children, she said.

“Unfortunately, he was in a place where no one imagined what was going to happen,” Marlon Castillo said.

A family man who leaves behind a massive ‘void’

Jose Mynor Lopez has been missing since the bridge collapse. - Obtained by CNN
Jose Mynor Lopez has been missing since the bridge collapse. - Obtained by CNN

In Dundalk, Maryland, the Owls Corner Café is rallying behind one of its employees, whose husband – Jose Mynor Lopez – has been missing since the bridge collapsed.

Lopez’s wife, Isabel Franco, works for the cafe, according to owner Lilly Ordonez.

The business started a GoFundMe page for Franco and her family, writing that Lopez’s family now faces an “uncertain future” without its “main provider and pillar of strength.”

“(Lopez) worked tirelessly to ensure his family had everything they needed,” according to the GoFundMe page. “His sudden absence has left a void that cannot be filled, both emotionally and financially.”

CNN has sought confirmation from local authorities that Lopez is among the missing.

“Jose was a great man, husband, and dad,” Ordonez told CNN on Wednesday. “An extremely hard-working individual, a great provider, and family man.”

Ordonez said she is very close to the family, and said Franco is in a state of shock, “barely sleeping or eating.”

“She’s by the phone waiting for news,” Ordonez said.

Lopez’s two youngest children don’t understand what’s going on, but his 17-year-old daughter is acting as a support system for her mother, Ordonez said.

The organizers of the GoFundMe page plan on distributing additional funds raised to other families impacted by the tragedy.

A voice message sent just before the bridge collapse

Carlos Hernández sent a voice message to his girlfriend just minutes before the deadly bridge collapse. - Obtained by CNN
Carlos Hernández sent a voice message to his girlfriend just minutes before the deadly bridge collapse. - Obtained by CNN

Carlos Hernández, a 24-year-old construction worker from Mexico, sent his girlfriend a voice memo from the bridge minutes before the collapse.

“Yes, my love, we just poured the cement and we’re just waiting for it to dry,” Hernández told Jazmin Alvarez, according to the voice note she shared with CNN affiliate Univison.

Alvarez, who lives in Mexico, recounted the moments she found out about the devastating incident and that Hernández was one of the workers presumed dead.

“I have the GPS tracking on his cellphone, so I looked, and it showed he was by the water, but I figured since he was on the bridge, that’s why it showed him being near the water,” Alvarez told Univision. “He didn’t answer.”

His aunt called her around 4 a.m., telling her about the accident. “I never imagined it was this bad, I thought it was a car accident,” she told the outlet.

Hernández’s mother told Univision she’s asking for help getting a humanitarian visa so she can travel to Maryland and exert pressure to keep searching for her son.

“I wake up, I want to think I am dreaming,” Hernández’s mother, Lucia Zambrano, told Univision. “But I wake up and I know this is reality – that my son was there.”

A family struggling to find closure

Wenceslao Contreras Ortiz holds up a picture of his nephew Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes on his phone. - CNN
Wenceslao Contreras Ortiz holds up a picture of his nephew Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes on his phone. - CNN

Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, lived in Baltimore and was a native of Veracruz, Mexico.

“We saw Alejandro being born, we spent time together during his childhood, we lived all together,” his uncle Wenceslao Contreras Ortiz told CNNE. “On his birthdays, we saw him blowing his candles and hitting his piñatas and everything else.”

Now Ortiz is pleading with Mexican authorities, hoping the government might help the family secure some semblance of closure as they grapple with the tragic loss of their loved one.

Fuentes’ sister is desperate to travel to the United States to join the rest of her family and say goodbye to her brother, Ortiz says. Fuentes’ body is one of the two that have been recovered from the wreckage so far.

Ortiz said they learned Fuentes was dead through watching the news.

“It’s been very hard to be honest. Especially because of the way we found out,” he said. “Immediately I recognized the name, I said it cant be.”

But Ortiz hasn’t been able to get much information since the accident, he said. A black ribbon posted on his sister’s social media was what confirmed that his nephew was dead.

“It really moves you when you are praying, and you realize that, well, that he has already gone to the house of the Father,” Ortiz said.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Tina Burnside, Jillian Sykes, Caroll Alvarado, Alex Stambaugh and Abel Alvarado, Gloria Pazmino, Maria Santana and Alex Medeiros contributed to this report.

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