Published: Thursday 31 August, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Tragedy: Family of 6 Drown Inside Van Trying to Escape Flood

Six members of the same family are among the dead in Houston’s catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. The Saldivar family – four kids and their grandparents, drowned inside their van as they tried to escape the flood.

Saldivar family drown Hurricane Harvey flood Houston

The six members of the Saldivar family who drowned in the Houston flood caused by Hurricane Harvey. (Family handout)

According to reports, the four children, aged 16, 14, 8 and 6 years old, were trying to escape the flood together with the grandparents, Manuel and Belia Saldivar, aged 81 and 83, respectively, when the tragedy occurred. The van was being driven by the children’s great uncle, Samuel, when they got stuck in the Greens Bayou area.

Along the way, a strong current lifted the van towards deeper water. Samuel Saldivar was able to escape through the driver’s side window but the van’s sliding door got stuck being partially submerged. Samuel desperately called on his family to try the back door, but the van started tilting straight downward making it difficult to do so.

According to Virginia Saldivar, Samuel’s wife, her husband could hear his family’s screams for help as he watched as the strong current carry it further until it disappeared under water. Samuel was later rescued but he is wracked with guilt.

All six – Manuel, Belia, Devy (16), Dominic (14), Xavier (8) and Daisy (6) are believed to have drowned. Family members have given up hope that those trapped inside could still be found alive. The Coast Guard has been notified of the accident but officials said they could not search for the van nor the bodies until the water recedes.

The death toll in Hurricane Harvey continues to rise as flood waters get deeper. More rain is expected and that is bad news to residents and rescuers. Officials expect the death toll to rise further when the water recedes and those who trapped by the flood are found.