NewsKey Bridge Collapse


Preserving the history of Key Bridge while helping families impacted by collapse

Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-12 19:40:45-04

DUNDALK, Md. — Aside from the memories, all that's left of the Francis Scott Key Bridge as we knew it, are the photographs. A local photographer is helping preserve its history while also helping the families who were impacted by its collapse.

If you take a boat out on the Patapsco River and head towards the Key Bridge today, you're likely either someone going to view the wreckage, or a worker helping to clear it. The last time Jennifer Smutek went out on a boat to this spot, it was with her father, and her camera. Through her lens, she had a much different view.

"My dad and I will get up really early in the morning, make coffee, and try to beat the sun out and watch the sunrise. We'll sit under the bridge and watch it come up," she tells WMAR-2 News.

She was making memories with her dad. She had no idea she would one day need memories of the bridge, too.


"I'm a person who likes to revisit a space and photograph it, over and over and over again. Because each day it's a little different. I photographed this bridge, I don't know how many times, and I always thought that I'd be able to come back to it again and again. And to think that - that's gone, it's wild."

As a professional wedding photographer, Smutek mostly takes photos like this, for fun. So she was surprised when, on a random Tuesday morning, someone reached out asking to purchase one of her Key Bridge photos.


"And I thought, that's a strange request at 5:30 in the morning. And then I started scrolling through the rest of my messages, and I was devastated."

More devastating news came when she learned of the six construction workers who lost their lives.

"My dad worked for Bethlehem Steel, growing up. It was a dangerous job. He would get injured. I can remember as a little girl, being so scared when he would go to work, and so relieved when he would come home. And I just think of those families - they probably worried a lot when those workers went to work. And then it became a reality for them that they didn't come home."

People wanted to buy her photos, she wanted to help the families - it just made sense. She's now donating the money she makes from sales directly to the fundraiser set up by the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.

"I didn't feel right selling them. I thought - how could I use this as a vehicle to help?"

You can purchase the photos at Little Crystal Bijoux in Dundalk, or online here.