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Federal criminal investigation opened into Key Bridge crash


The FBI has opened a criminal investigation focusing on the massive container ship that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore last month — a probe that will look at least in part at whether the crew left the port knowing the vessel had serious systems problems, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Authorities are reviewing the events leading up to the moment when the Dali, a 985-foot Singapore-flagged ship, lost power while leaving the Port of Baltimore and slammed into one of the bridge’s support pillars, said the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.

On Monday morning, federal agents appeared to board the ship to conduct a search. Less than an hour after the sun rose at 6:30 a.m., a succession of three boats pulled to the port side of the Dali. About 6:50 a.m. Monday, people wearing yellow or orange life jackets entered the Dali through a lower door and climbed a ladder to the ship’s bow. About a half-hour later, nearly a dozen more people wearing dark clothing pulled up in a smaller boat and climbed aboard.

The FBI confirmed in a statement that its agents were on the ship.

“The FBI is present aboard the cargo ship Dali conducting court authorized law enforcement activity,” the agency said in a statement Monday morning.

The FBI said it did not have any additional public information and would not comment further.

“My office generally will not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about investigations,” Erek L. Barron, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, said in a statement. “However, the public should know, whether it’s gun violence, civil rights abuse, financial fraud, or any other threat to public safety or property, we will seek accountability for anyone who may be responsible.”

The owner and operator of the ship and attorneys representing them also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The pre-dawn crash March 26 crumpled the Key Bridge, where eight people were working to repair concrete and fill potholes. Six members of the repair crew fell into the water and died, officials said. Two survived.

The criminal investigation is separate from the probe the National Transportation Safety Board has launched to determine the cause of the crash and assess other safety-related measures.

President Biden and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) have both previously said that they intend to hold accountable any parties deemed potentially liable for the destruction of the bridge.

This is a developing story and will be updated.



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