‘Heroes’ saved lives by keeping drivers off Baltimore’s Key Bridge moments before collapse, governor says

Fast action by authorities likely saved lives moments before Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

At least eight people were missing after a container ship rammed into the bridge. Several vehicles fell into the icy Patapsco River. Rescuers searched for survivors.

Once a mayday was issued on the ship that would crash into the bridge, authorities were able to “stop cars from coming over the bridge,” Moore said at a news conference.

“These people are heroes. They saved lives last night,” he said.

It took officers less than two minutes to stop traffic on the bridge, the Associated Press reported. Officers were just about to alert a construction crew to the emergency when the bridge collapsed, according to radio traffic obtained by the AP from the Broadcastify.com archive.

The Maryland Transportation Authority first responder radio traffic includes a dispatcher putting out a call saying a ship had lost its steering ability and asking officers to stop all traffic.

One officer who had stopped traffic radioed that he was going to drive onto the bridge to notify the construction crew once a second officer arrived. But seconds later, a frantic officer radioed that the bridge had collapsed.

Two people were rescued from the river. One of these people was taken to a hospital and later released; the other was evaluated and not taken to a hospital. At least six people were missing.

Members of a construction crew were filling potholes on the bridge when it collapsed. Go here for continuing coverage.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.