Julio Cervantes Suarez recalled thinking of his own mortality as a 947-foot vessel slammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge where he had been fixing potholes.

Seven construction workers, who were all Latino men, fell into the Patapsco River seconds after the Dali cargo ship hit the bridge in the early morning hours of March 26. Cervantes Suarez is the only person to fall into the river and survive.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Tom Llamas published Wednesday, Cervantes Suarez described how he and a crew were on a rest break in the middle of the bridge as ship approached and lost steering. The interview marks the first time Cervantes Suarez has spoken publicly about the bridge collapse.

Cervantes Suarez said everything began to shake just before he saw his co-workers disappear into the water. He thought he would die because he doesn’t know how to swim, he added.

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He told NBC that he turned to God in what thought were his final moments.

“I thanked God for family he gave me. I asked him to take care of my wife and kids. And I asked for forgiveness for everything I’ve done,” Cervantes Suarez said in Spanish.

The Dali lost power and slammed into the bridge, causing it to cascade into the river below around 1:30 a.m. March 26. For weeks the Port of Baltimore, one of America’s busiest, was closed as the Army Corps of Engineers worked to clear debris and reopen the shipping channel.

Cervantes Suarez, who still suffers pain in his chest, left knee and foot from his injuries, described sitting in his truck as the bridge collapsed beneath him. Once the truck hit the river, the water “came up to my neck” and the doors wouldn’t open, barring a quick escape.

Cervantes Suarez said he swallowed water as he manually rolled down the windows to the vehicle, which sank.

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“That’s when I realized what happened. I looked at the bridge and it was no longer there,” Cervantes Suarez said.

A memorial site to honor the construction workers who lost their lives in the collapse of the Key Bridge sits on the side of the road right before the blockade to Fort Armistead Park. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

All of his co-workers gradually disappeared into the water, Cervantes Suarez said. He floated to a piece of the bridge sitting in the river, and started to call out for those but he heard nothing.

“I started to call out to each one of them by name,” he said. “But no one answered me,” he said.

The bodies of the six workers on the bridge who died — José Mynor López, 37, of Baltimore; Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore; Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of Dundalk; Maynor Suazo Sandoval and Miguel Luna, 49 — were recovered in the six weeks after the collapse.

Cervantes Suarez was found during search and recovery efforts by cutting on the flashlight attached to his helmet, according to NBC.

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NTSB reported the ship had power trouble in the days leading to the disaster. The FBI opened a criminal investigation into the wreck.

Estimates to replace the bridge put the cost upwards of $1.7 billion. President Joe Biden has also said he wants the federal government to pay the full cost for the new bridge.