[Baltimore Sun] Mourners celebrate the life of Maynor Suazo Sandoval, Key Bridge worker ‘with a big heart’

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It would be no surprise to anyone who knew Maynor Suazo Sandoval that his wake brought out a packed house.

So many people filed into the March Tribute Life Center in Randallstown that halfway through a Friday night celebration of life service for the 38-year-old construction worker and father, Pastor Anthony Lecocq asked people standing in the back of the auditorium to move toward the sides.

“We’re going to pack this thing out, standing room only,” Lecocq, lead pastor of TrinityLife in Lutherville said, as he urged attendees to move closer together. 

Suazo Sandoval died along with five other members of a construction crew when a container ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, bringing it crashing down. Divers recovered his body on April 5, bringing some closure to his grieving family.

Suazo Sandoval raised four children, but he touched the lives of many others by sending remittances to his hometown of Azacualpa in Santa Bárbara, Honduras, where he helped fund a youth soccer team. 

The adventurous youngest sibling of eight came to the Baltimore area nearly 18 years ago, paving the way for his brother and sister to follow him and enabling economic stability for his family’s next generation. His siblings traveled to attend Friday’s celebration of life, Lecocq said.

Ambitious and hardworking, Suazo Sandoval started his own business and worked construction, but still found time to take his family to the beach, cook delicious meals and ride rollercoasters at Six Flags.

He married his wife, Bertalia Verenice Martinez, a decade ago. His son Yasir is 18. He and his wife raised three children together: Kimberly, Paola and Alexa. Suazo Sandoval was “like a father to” Kimberly and Paola, while his daughter Alexa was “the apple of his eye,” a program for Friday’s service said.

The celebration of life was closed to the news media at the family’s request, but the service was streamed online. A Saturday morning visitation and funeral service at TrinityLife is also closed to the press at Martinez’s request.

Friday night’s program showed Maynor’s face set against a brilliant sunset sky, doves hovering around his face. In one photo, he celebrated a birthday surrounded by kids, with a cake reading “Happy Birthday, Maynor” in Spanish on a table in front of them. A selfie showed him and his wife in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, bundled up in coats.

“Maynor was a man with a big heart,” the program read. “He was always willing to help people and during his life he was constantly surrounded by many friends and people who loved him.”

Lecocq, who addressed the gathering in English with another man translating in Spanish, urged attendees to remember things about Maynor that made them smile, like roughhousing kids or playing soccer together.

The pastor told Martinez to look around at all the people gathered, from somber-faced men in black suits to little kids who waved fans bearing Suazo Sandoval’s face. 

“Verenice and family, I just want to take a moment and point out the show of support and love from the community. When you are wondering and thinking about Maynor’s legacy and impact, you can remember the people in this room tonight,” Lecocq said.

Suazo Sandoval’s casket remained open during the prayer service, flanked by bouquets of white flowers.

“These are moments of grief but they are also moments of grateful joy,” Lecocq said. “God is a God of intentionality and design and he chose you to be the people that Maynor lived his life with.”

Maryland Lt. Governor Aruna Miller addressed Suazo Sandoval’s family during the service. Miller said she and Gov. Wes Moore were praying for the family and their lost husband and father. 

“We are praying for his friends who perished and their families too,” Miller said. The bodies of two workers still have yet to be recovered.

Miller thanked the family for inviting her and Moore to their home, where Suazo Sandoval’s daughter shared stories about cooking with her father, Miller said. 

“You shared your grief with us. We cried together and you shared beautiful stories of Maynor with us,” Miller said. She read aloud a citation in memory of Suazo Sandoval’s life and achievements on behalf of the state of Maryland. 

Musician Luis Caseres, accompanied by Erick Escobar and Matias Britos, sang a series of worship songs in Spanish. Before he began to sing, Caseres told attendees he hoped they could take comfort in the music.

“If you want to sing, sing.” Caseres said in Spanish. “If you want to cry, cry.” 

They did sing. As the musicians played “Algo esta cayendo aqui,” or “Something is falling here,” the sound of women’s voices and a few hands lifted toward the skies. 

“His glory upon me,” the mourners sang. “Healing wounds, lifting the fallen.”

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