Ahead of closure, Maynor Suavo Sandoval’s family remembers him as a happy provider

By | March 29, 2024

Three days after his younger brother Maynor disappeared off the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Carlos Alexis Suavo Sandoval went into the water to see for himself what was left.

The 50-year-old set out from Canton Friday morning with the blessing of the Coast Guard, recording video from a boat of the destroyed bridge that rises from the sparkling Patapsco River.

“Yes, they are working, I see more people here, I see more equipment,” Carlos said in Spanish in a video, reassuring his family in Honduras that teams were in fact working hard to restore the body of his 38- birthday boy to be found. brother Maynor Yessir Suavo Sandoval.

“Okay, family, we’re leaving the scene,” he said in another video. “I hope today is the day they find Maynor.”

After a container ship collided with the Key Bridge’s support column, causing it to collapse, divers searched the river for the Brawner Builders construction crew that had been working overnight to repair potholes.

Two people survived the collapse Tuesday – a Brawner worker and a bridge inspector – and on Wednesday teams found the bodies of two more workers in a submerged truck. Officials identified these workers as Alejandro Fuentes Hernandez and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera.

By Friday, the bodies of four workers, including Maynor, had still not been found, leaving families in a painful no man’s land.

Maynor, the youngest of eight siblings, was always cheerful, said his brother, a charismatic and giving father of two who lived in Owings Mills. In a video taken at Christmas 2023, he sang happily and gestured into the camera before dancing away, swaying his hips. He would have turned 39 years old on April 27.

“A young person: young, young,” Carlos said about his brother on Friday.

CASA, an organization that supports immigrants in Maryland, said in a statement that Maynor was a member and had lived in the United States for 17 years. He dreamed of starting his own business and making a gift for machines, the organization said. Another missing worker, Miguel Luna, was also a CASA member.

Early Tuesday morning, Carlos received a call from his sister-in-law, who said Maynor had been in an accident. He and his sister assumed it would be a normal accident, a work accident or something highway related. “When we got there, we saw it was the biggest bridge in the city, the most beautiful bridge in the city,” he said.

The family still doesn’t know exactly where Maynor was on the bridge when it collapsed, Carlos said, but they believe the workers had completed their work and were in their vehicles. Carlos believes his brother was driving a van, the first vehicle seen entering the water on video of the collapse.

Although a Mayday warning from the ship’s crew just before the 1:27 a.m. impact allowed Maryland Transportation Authority police to deter motorists from driving onto the bridge, it is unclear when or if the warning reached workers. How emergency responders tried to reach workers is part of the federal investigation into the crash and collapse, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said this week.

Meanwhile, family members and friends are mourning Maynor in his hometown of Azacualpa in Santa Bárbara, Honduras, the city where the fruits of his hard work returned.

It can be difficult to make a living in Honduras, said Marina Maldonado Villeda, a family friend of the Suavo Sandoval family, in a telephone interview from Azacualpa.

“The economic part and the security part are forcing Hondurans to make drastic decisions,” she said in Spanish, decisions like those Maynor made when he came to the U.S. nearly two decades ago.

Since leaving, Maynor has sent money home, putting smiles on children’s faces and even sponsored a football league.

“Maynor was a young man with a lot of love for his city, for Azacualpa, for where he was born,” said Maldonado Villeda.

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Although Maynor worked long hours, he enjoyed being active in his spare time, spending time walking with his wife and young daughter and visiting parks or the beach. His endless energy sometimes exhausted his older brother, Carlos said. Maynor was intelligent – ​​he had studied at a technical institute – and always cheerful, Carlos said.

With his brother’s body still submerged or buried under wreckage, Carlos won’t consider plans for a funeral. “The first thing is to have my brother’s body,” he said Friday at Bayside Cantina in Canton after his boat ride.

The brothers last saw each other on Sunday afternoon, an ordinary day. Maynor called Carlos and invited him to dinner. Carlos complained that he didn’t like soup, the dish that was offered. They joked and worked on plans for a birthday party for their sister Norma. Carlos brought over a vacuum cleaner for his brother to borrow.

That afternoon, around 3 p.m., Carlos hugged Maynor for what he didn’t know would be the last time.

“It was the last hug. The last one,” his brother said.

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