HOUSTON — Six family members trying to flee rising floodwaters Sunday were swept away in their van and are still missing, two relatives told NBC News on Monday.
Authorities have not confirmed the incident, but the relatives said the van was submerged in the rushing waters and the six — four children and their great-grandparents — are feared dead.
“We are devastated,” said Virginia Saldivar, the grandmother of the four children.
The family identified the missing as Manuel Saldivar. 84, and his wife Belia, 81; Devy Saldivar, 16; Dominic Saldivar, 15; Xavier Saldivar, 8; and Daisy Saldivar, 6.
The children’s great-uncle was trying to drive all of them to a safer place when the van nose-dived into the water near Greens Bayou, the relatives said.
Hanging onto a tree branch, he tried to rescue the others but couldn’t before the van was swept away, they said. By the time he got to dry land, the vehicle had disappeared, he said.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said it could not confirm the missing family, but the relatives said they expected once the water receded, they would be found.
“It’s so unfair,” said Esmeralda Saldiva, the children’s aunt through marriage. “They were good kids. They didn’t deserve to die this way.”
If confirmed, the tragedy would bring the death toll to eight as historic flooding and unrelenting rains continued to cripple the Houston region Monday in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Texas officials earlier confirmed two separate deaths, including a person found drowned inside their car Saturday night.
Phil McCausland reported from Houston, and Tracy Connor reported from New York.