Family of 6 drowned inside van while trying to escape Harvey floods

by Garry Watts August 31, 2017, 0:58
Family of 6 drowned inside van while trying to escape Harvey floods

Six members of a family have drowned in Houston after their van was swept away by currents in the Hurricane Harvey floodwaters in the deadliest single incident since the storm began.

Houston station KHOU reported that the van had just driven across a bridge in Houston when major flooding struck and swept away the vehicle, according to witnesses. Ric Saldivar says his brother - driving their elderly parents and four young relatives, ages six to 16 - tried unsuccessfully to make it across a flooded bridge.

"We could briefly look into the van and see at least two bodies that are in there", said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

The man said he was with several family members inside a white van that had become submerged into the water.

Although the driver - the children's great-uncle - was able to escape the auto before it went under water, the rest of the family was unable to make it out, KHOU 11 reported. "And the van just went underwater and was gone".

After floodwaters in the area receded, the van was spotted by family members and recovered by police.

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"It went headfirst in and water came in real fast", Ric Saldivar told CNN.

"No sleep & anxiety, please let this pass sooner", 16-year-old wrote about 5:30 a.m. Sunday. The way they were raised, "Dad tells you to do something, you do it", Ric Saldivar said. Sammy was able to crawl through the driver's side window and grabbed a branch until he was rescued 45 minutes later.

Not long after that message, Saldivar's great uncle Sammy piled Devy, Daisy, 6, Xavier, 8, and Dominic, 14, along with their great grandparents Manuel Saldivar, 84, and Belia, 81, into his van in an attempt to get them to safety, NBC News reported.

"They went to heaven holding hands".

"He's still blaming himself, he was trying to do the right thing to get them out of the flood. and it just happened".

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