More than 1,000 people showed up to an event at Key Brewing Co. on Friday to raise funds for port workers who will soon be out of work after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. But one man in the crowd held a connection, different than the rest, to the iconic Baltimore structure.

Terry Turbin, now in his early 70s, was a union laborer who worked on Key Bridge in 1975. As a young man, he helped drive the pilings into the ground that would support the structure for $8.10 an hour.

It was “very dangerous” work, he said. “You had to be aware of everything around you. You had people working up top, you had people working on the barge … there was a lot of activity. It was a very stressful job.”

Turbin, who still lives in the area, said he never expected to see the bridge come down in his lifetime. Sitting outside at the Key Brewing fundraiser, he reflected on what it was like to see it come down in an instant.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“It was a total shock to me,” he said. “You feel a sense of grief. You feel a sense of, part of you went down with it because you did work on it. You feel a sense that it should have never happened. There’s all sorts of feelings and emotions that go with it.”

Turbin drove across the Key Bridge thousands of times, he said. And every time, he could envision himself down below, working to build it.

“Now that it’s gone, it’s a heartache.”

By 6:30 p.m., the “Support the Port” fundraiser, organized by the brewery and Old Eastern Ink Shop, had raised around $8,000, according to Ray Schissler, one of the partners at Key Brewing.

Money for workers whose futures are uncertain as the Port of Baltimore remains closed to shipping vessels was also collected from direct donations, food and beverage sales, a silent auction and a limited-run T-shirt sale.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The T-shirts were printed at Old Eastern Ink Shop and sold for $20, with $17 of each purchase going to the fundraiser. Molly Korman, who owns the shop with her husband, Nick Volk, said they sold out within an hour of the 250 or so shirts they printed. The couple had started working immediately to organize a fundraiser when they heard about the bridge collapsing.

Volunteers fold and prepare specially printed T-shirts as part of a fundraiser for port workers affected by the collapse of the Key Bridge. (Kaitlin Newman)

“I honestly have not really had a second to process it. … All I can think about is, I think how happy I am that the community rallied so quickly and so hard,” Volk said. “It’s what Charm City does, it’s what Baltimore does. I think it’s incredible to see it in action.”

The money from Friday’s event will be held in an account with the Greater Baltimore Democratic Socialists of America, the organizers said. Within a couple of weeks, the DSA will transfer the money to the local AFL-CIO, which will be able to distribute the money to other unions and workers.

Kevin Gallagher, a member of the DSA’s steering committee, said the Key Brewing fundraiser was just the beginning.

“We’re going to raise money for Baltimore workers as long as they need the help,” Gallagher said.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Also there to help was Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., clad in a windbreaker and Orioles baseball cap, who said he poured more beers than he could count.

Tending bar was a much-needed break after a busy week grappling with the fallout of the bridge collapse — especially since a portion of all beer sales from the event will go directly to the funds raised for the workers.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. pours a beer at Key Brewing Co. in Dundalk. (Kaitlin Newman)

“I think we all need this,” Olszewski said. “It’s a very eastside Baltimore County story. We come together and we take care of each other.”

Olszewski, who grew up and lives in Dundalk still, was pleased with the turnout.

“It’s heartwarming to know how strongly people are responding,” he said. “It speaks volumes to the heart of this community.”

Cody Boteler is a reporter on The Banner’s Express Desk, reporting on breaking news, trending stories and interesting things in and around Baltimore. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, USA TODAY, Baltimore magazine and others.

More From The Banner