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Students react to Baltimore Key Bridge collapse

By Gilliana Taylor, Staff Writer

In the early hours of Tuesday, March 26, a Dali cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. A mayday was issued from the ship moments before the collision. 

The ship collided with one of the bridge’s 1.6-mile-long supports at about nine miles per hour. The ship’s weight caused a collision of massive force, leading the bridge to collapse upon impact. 

 A video of the collapse quickly flooded social media timelines.

Sophomore education major Paige Fitfield shared how social media informed her of the accident. 

“I saw mass amounts of videos and posts about the bridge collapsing,” she said. “On TikTok, I saw plenty of videos of people talking about what happened. There was also a lot of misleading information on social media. It took me a while to figure out what actually happened.”

Junior business major Caleigh Kellerman shared a similar sentiment. 

“TikTok was the first place I heard about the bridge collapsing,” Kellerman said. “I saw countless videos from all different angles of the collapse. I heard what was said to be a conversation from police officers trying to block off the bridge so people wouldn’t go on it. I heard that there was a construction company working on the bridge. I heard that people were driving on it as it collapsed. It’s really a tragedy.”

Kellerman also shared how the incident has changed her perspective. 

“When I was younger I was terrified of bridges but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten over that fear,” she said. “But this incident just shows that anything can happen. From now on, when I drive on a bridge I’m going to have all my windows down, so if something were to happen I would have a way out. Even though it may not do anything in the event of disaster, it will just make me feel better to be proactive.”

The internet was quick to come up with conspiracy theories soon after the news broke. 

Photo credits: NTSB/Handout via REUTERS

One popular theory was spread by Andrew Tate, a right-wing social media influencer with over nine million followers. Tate took X claiming the ship was “cyber attacked’ and purposefully steered towards the bridge. 

  Kellerman shared her thoughts on the conspiracy theories. 

“Yes, I saw some conspiracies,” she said. “I saw people saying this was a planned attack as the ship had turned to the direction of the bridge’s post. They said that there’s more to come of instances like this. I’ve heard that they signaled an alarm of some sort to notify them that there was an emergency on board. I heard that the ship lost power, hence why there was no control of the ship.”

More students have been deterred from the 24-hour news and reverted to social media as their primary source of information. While there is some good in having access to news so quickly, students struggle with knowing what is really going on when using social media as a news source.

Fitfeild shared her thoughts on social media as a news outlet.

“Personally, I feel that social media isn’t a reliable source because the story gets twisted so fast and then all of a sudden the story doesn’t make sense anymore,” she said. “People do things for views and attention so they create clickbait or just false advertisements to get the attention of the viewer. Then those viewers go and spread that false information. Social media is very easily manipulated to make people/viewers believe what it is they want.”

Kellerman shared similar feelings. 

 “Sometimes social media is biased, there’s no doubt, and sometimes there’s fake news, so it’s hard to always know what’s real or not,” she said. “After I saw the video on TikTok of the bridge collapsing, I looked it up on Google and found numerous links confirming that this was in fact a true situation. What’s hard to find out is the real cause of this incident. On social media, people love to share theories and what they’ve heard about situations such as this, so I feel it is hard to determine truth from myth.”

No matter what theory may be true, there is no denying that the collapse of Francis Scott Key Bridge was a true tragedy.  Eight men went down during the event. Two men made it out alive shortly after, however, three were found dead and three are still missing.  

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