A 16-year-old girl who is believed to have drowned alongside her three siblings and great grandparents posted a heartbreaking message on her Facebook account as Hurricane Harvey began to approach her family home. Devy Saldivar’s post was uploaded onto her account in the early hours of Sunday is especially poignant given the tragedy that followed shortly after.
Taking to social media at 5:30am on Sunday, Devy wrote “No sleep & anxiety, please let this pass sooner”. Tragically, only a few hours after her innocent plea, her great uncle Sammy tried to drive the family to safety, only to be hit by violent floodwaters that engulfed the van near Greens Bayou area, Texas.
Speaking to ABC 13, uncle Ric Saldivar said: “The water picked the van up, and it was just floating after that, it went head-first in, and water came in real fast.”
Sammy managed to get himself out of the van and pulled himself out onto a tree branch, yelling for the others to do the same.
“He called it a twig,” Ric said. “A 2-inch little branch.”
Sadly, it was too late for everyone else inside the van, and it went under shortly after Sammy’s escape.
“That keeps playing in his head,” said a tearful Ric.
The children’s grandmother Virginia Saldivar, also spoke to the press, describing the moment that she was told about the tragic incident.
“Sam calls my husband and tells him, ‘They’re gone,’” she said. “That’s when my husband dropped the phone and started screaming.”
Devy, 16, Daisy, 6, Xavier, 8, and Dominic, 14 are believed to have died alongside their great-grandparents, Manuel Saldivar, 84, and his wife, 81, authorities have said.
“My brother-in-law saw the van go under the water,” said Virginia. “We are devastated.”
The Harris county Sheriff’s Office are saying that they cannot confirm the fate of the family, but their relatives expect that their bodies would most likely be found once the flood waters begin to recede. The children’s mother went out in a boat to desperately search for the van, but her mission proved unsuccessful.
“She’s a mom — she just wants to find her kids,” said Esmeralda Saldivar, the children’s aunt through marriage.
“It’s so unfair, they were good kids. They didn’t deserve to die this way.”
Virginia said that the children were “the sweetest kids”, saying:
“Devy loved animals, Starbucks and thrift store shopping. She was my sunflower, my sunshine. Xavier was the sweetest boy. He loved anything Army and playing video games,” she told NBC News.
“Daisy was our princess. She was Grandpa’s girl. She loved kittens and dressing up, and watching YouTube videos.
“Dominic was my heart. He was the most amazing, loving boy. He loved playing his trombone, watching YouTube and playing video games. He loved his family and he would defend them against anything,” she said.
The family said that they would look for the bodies themselves once they are allowed to return to the area.
“Finding my babies,” said Virginia, “that’s my ultimate goal.”
It’s a truly horrific and heartbreaking story and our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.