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Relative of Family Swept Away in Flood: ‘I Know They Went to Heaven Holding Hands’


People make their means out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water following Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As his brother tells it, Sammy Saldivar tried his greatest to maneuver round Harvey’s floodwaters.

Sammy packed his aged mother and father and their 4 great-grandchildren right into a van as water rose round their northeast Texas residence on Sunday.

He wished to flip round as he approached a waterlogged bridge over Greens Bayou. But his father yelled at him to hold going, his brother, Ric Saldivar, stated. Even at 84, patriarch Manuel Saldivar was nonetheless demanding. The means they had been raised, “Dad tells you to do something, you do it,” Ric Saldivar stated.

Sammy made it throughout the bridge solely to encounter a dip in the street on the opposite aspect, Ric Saldivar stated, recalling what his brother instructed him. Sammy misplaced management and the van went nose-first into the bayou along with his mother and father and the 4 youngsters, ages 6 to 16, trapped inside.

Sammy managed to wriggle out of his seat belt and thru the motive force’s aspect window. He made his means to a department in the speeding water and held on for his life.

The water was so deep the van bobbed up and down. “He could hear the kids screaming and crying, trying to get out of the van,” Ric Saldivar instructed CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Sammy yelled out to them to go to the again of the van and open the door, however they by no means made it. The van plunged into the water as Sammy watched.

Ric Saldivar stated the Harris County Sheriff’s Office instructed him his brother was caught in the water for 45 minutes once they discovered him. As they pulled him from the water he saved yelling “the van’s down there, the van’s down,” however by then it had disappeared.

They nonetheless don’t know the place the van is, whether or not the present carried it away or if it sank shut to the place it went in. They’ll have to await the storms to move to search for it.

For now, all of the Saldivar household can do is grieve and luxury their surviving relative.

“He’s still blaming himself,” Ric Saldivar stated. “He was trying to do the right thing to get them out of the flood … and it just happened.”

Sammy had just lately relocated from Missouri to dwell along with his growing old mother and father, who each had Alzheimer’s, his brother stated. He was with them the morning flooding started in their neighborhood.

Ric Saldivar known as his brother and instructed him to carry the relations to his home on greater floor. Sammy stopped at one other relative’s residence to decide up Devy, 16, Dominic, 14, Xavier, eight, and 6-year-old Daisy.

The youngsters had been the middle of the household’s universe, their grandmother, Virginia Saldivar, instructed CNN’s John Berman. She lived throughout the road from them and noticed them on daily basis.

“These were our babies,” she stated. “It’s unbelievable. A nightmare we can’t wake up from.”

Daisy, the youngest, was at all times hamming it up, a lot so that you couldn’t assist however snigger alongside together with her, Ric Saldivar stated. He tears up speaking about her. He needs he may have spent extra time together with her.

Belia, 81, and Manuel Saldivar would have celebrated their 60th wedding ceremony anniversary in October. Ric Saldivar didn’t assume they’d a lot time left.

Despite the ravages of Alzheimer’s they had been at all times collectively. One minute, they’d be combating “like they never fought before,” and 10 minutes later they’d be hugging and kissing and holding arms, he stated.

“I couldn’t see one without the other. No matter who was left behind they weren’t gonna last much longer without the other one.”

Sammy instructed his brother their mother and father had been holding arms as they rode in the automotive. It brings Ric Saldivar a small measure of consolation.

“I can already imagine Dad holding Mom’s hand real tight as the water rushed in,” he stated. “I know they went to heaven holding hands.”

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