Dive teams navigate treacherous conditions in Baltimore Key Bridge recovery mission

In the Patapsco River, efforts are ongoing to recover the bodies of four people presumed to be dead following the bridge collapse Tuesday morning.

FOX 5 wanted some context about the nature of those recovery efforts.

Put simply, it’s dangerous work.

Matt Skogebow is a diving expert with knowledge of these types of recovery missions, but is not directly involved with the recovery efforts currently happening in the Patapsco.

"It’s a very hostile environment," Skogebow said.


Baltimore bridge victims: Officials confirm 2 bodies recovered

Officials have announced that two people have been recovered from the Patapsco River following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge Tuesday. 

There is a long list of challenges that make these recovery efforts especially dangerous.

Chief among them, Skogebow says, is limited visibility.

Sometimes it’s only inches, other times, it’s just feet.

Combine the limited visibility with obstructions that can wash into the river, and that can create a dangerous situation for divers, especially given the currents in the river.  Skogebow said the bridge itself also may not have settled yet, meaning the mangled metal could also be moving, creating an additional challenge for divers.

"It can be any number of things that they can run into,"  Skogebow said. "So, the search processes are pretty typical in terms of how they run their patterns. They’ll run grid patterns, they’ll do the side-scan sonar to identify what’s there and look to see if there’s anything they should go and put a little bit more effort into look at, depending on the current and everything else."

Skogebow says he has friends on the dive teams and that they take this job seriously.

"Where we might see something very stressful and very dangerous, to them, it’s something they’ve honored and happy to be doing and want to be doing to serve this community," Skogebow said. "It is a challenge, there are threats that they’ve worked very hard to mitigate, and this is what they want to be doing for the community is to be here and be in that water to bring these people home to their families."