Harvey Tragedy: Missing family in van, swept away by floodwaters - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Harvey Tragedy: Missing family in van, swept away by floodwaters, found

Posted: Updated:

A Houston family's worst fears were confirmed Wednesday when a van swept away by Hurricane Harvey floodwaters — carrying an elderly couple and four great-grandchildren — was apparently found submerged in a bayou.

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

Police divers were on their way to the Greens Bayou, and the medical examiner was on the scene, waiting to confirm the victims' identities. Chaplains were en route to comfort relatives gathered on a nearby bridge.

"They're very saddened, obviously," Gonzalez said. "They've been very traumatized."

The grim discovery ended three days of anguished waiting for the Saldivar family, who had given up hope the missing six would be found alive but who were desperate to recover the bodies.

The tragedy happened Sunday afternoon as Sammy Saldivar was trying to drive flooded-out relatives to dry ground.

In the van with him were his parents, 84-year-old Manuel and 81-year-old Belia, both Alzheimer's patients, and the great-grandchildren, who ranged in age from 16 to 8.

Relatives told NBC News that Sadivar had just crossed a bridge over the swollen bayou when the road dipped down and the vehicle was swept into the water, which was moving at five knots.

Saldivar managed to wriggle out of his seat belt and escape the sinking van through a half-open window, he told family members. He grabbed onto a tree branch and urged the others to try to escape.

"He could hear the kids screaming and crying, trying to get out of the van," his brother, Ricardo Saldivar, told NBC News on Tuesday.

"He said, 'Climb to the top, go out the back door,'" he said. "But [with] the van pointed straight down, they couldn't climb up the van, much less open the door.

"He just seen the van go under the water."

Relatives told NBC News that Sadivar had just crossed a bridge over the swollen bayou when the road dipped down and the vehicle was swept into the water, which was moving at five knots.

Saldivar managed to wriggle out of his seat belt and escape the sinking van through a half-open window, he told family members. He grabbed onto a tree branch and urged the others to try to escape.

"He could hear the kids screaming and crying, trying to get out of the van," his brother, Ricardo Saldivar, told NBC News on Tuesday.

"He said, 'Climb to the top, go out the back door,'" he said. "But [with] the van pointed straight down, they couldn't climb up the van, much less open the door.

"He just seen the van go under the water."

WEEKLY CIRCULARS
  • NewsMore>>

  • Water rescues and flooded roads in Hixson on Tuesday

    Water rescues and flooded roads in Hixson on Tuesday

    Tuesday, April 24 2018 9:10 PM EDT2018-04-25 01:10:36 GMT

    The Channel 3 Storm Alert team measured at least 6 inches of standing water on the road on Winding Hills Lane in Hixson at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday. However, closer to a property owner's fence, it looked like closer to a foot. 

    More

    The Channel 3 Storm Alert team measured at least 6 inches of standing water on the road on Winding Hills Lane in Hixson at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday. However, closer to a property owner's fence, it looked like closer to a foot. 

    More
  • Opioid treatment gap in Medicare: methadone clinics

    Opioid treatment gap in Medicare: methadone clinics

    Tuesday, April 24 2018 3:56 AM EDT2018-04-24 07:56:11 GMT
    Tuesday, April 24 2018 8:57 PM EDT2018-04-25 00:57:32 GMT
    (AP Photo/Kevin D. Liles, File). FILE - In this March 7, 2017, file photo, the CEO of a methadone clinic holds a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone in Rossville, Ga. The drug is the oldest and most effective of approved medications used to treat opioid add...(AP Photo/Kevin D. Liles, File). FILE - In this March 7, 2017, file photo, the CEO of a methadone clinic holds a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone in Rossville, Ga. The drug is the oldest and most effective of approved medications used to treat opioid add...
    Opioid overdoses killed 1,354 Americans ages 65 and older in 2016, but Medicare doesn't cover the oldest proven treatment for opioid addiction: methadone.More
    Opioid overdoses killed 1,354 Americans ages 65 and older in 2016, but Medicare doesn't cover the oldest proven treatment for opioid addiction: methadone.More
  • Waffle House hero honored by Tennessee legislature

    Waffle House hero honored by Tennessee legislature

    Tuesday, April 24 2018 7:16 AM EDT2018-04-24 11:16:59 GMT
    Tuesday, April 24 2018 8:34 PM EDT2018-04-25 00:34:50 GMT
    James Shaw Jr. was honored at the TN Capitol on Tuesday. (WSMV)James Shaw Jr. was honored at the TN Capitol on Tuesday. (WSMV)

    The resolution reads, "If a hero is 'a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character,' then James Shaw Jr. is a hero twice over, for he has demonstrated both his courage and character in a manner few could ever attempt to emulate."

    More

    The resolution reads, "If a hero is 'a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character,' then James Shaw Jr. is a hero twice over, for he has demonstrated both his courage and character in a manner few could ever attempt to emulate."

    More
Powered by Frankly