Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez stated on Wednesday that members of a Houston family succumbed to the flooding that has lashed the Houston metro area since Friday. Gonzalez said, "Unfortunately it seems that our worst thoughts have been realized." Four children were among the dead in a van that was carrying the family. It was found in Greens Bayou.
The children were Devy (16), Dominic (14), Xavier (8), and Daisy (6). Their mother was reportedly too upset to speak to the media.
Divers with the sheriff's office began recovery of the dead on Wednesday morning. Two adults were in the front seats. Sammy Saldivar was driving the van on Sunday afternoon. He was able to escape, but did not rescue any one else . Sammy exited through the open driver's side window but could not open the rear hatch to release the children or his elderly parents, Bedia (81) and Manuel Saldivar (84). Both had suffered dementia. They were to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in October.
Family members had been searching for the van once flood waters began to subside. On Tuesday, they saw the top of the cargo van, several hundred feet from where it entered the water.
Members of the extended Saldivar family -- 28 persons -- had taken refuge at the George R. Brown Convention Center after being rescued by helicopter from their home in the Lakewood, approximately quarter mile from where his six family members perished. Andrew Saldivar left the convention center several times to look for the van and its occupants. On Tuesday night, once the water fell, he found the van.
Sammy Saldivar tried to maneuver around the floodwaters on Sunday in an effort to save his parents and their four great-grandchildren. His brother, Ric Saldivar, said that their father, Manuel, demanded that Sammy continue over a flooded bridge. Encountering a dip in the road on the other side, Sammy lost control of the van, which then dove into the raging bayou. His parent and the four children were trapped inside. Sammy got out of the van and held on to a tree, while the van bobbed in the torrent. Ric Saldivar said that his brother could hear the children screaming for help while trying to rescue themselves. Despite calls from Sammy, the children and the elders could not open the rear hatch of the van, which plunged into the water. Deputies from the Harris County Sheriff's Office found him about 45 minutes later.
"He's still blaming himself," Ric Saldivar said, according to CNN.