Among Harvey's Victims: 6 Family Members of Selena

The Saldivar family's van sank in a flooded bayou
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2017 7:51 AM CDT
Among Harvey's Victims: 6 Family Members of Selena
In this Nov. 14, 1994, file photo Selena Quintanilla-Perez performs during a concert in Corpus Christi, Texas.   (AP Photo/George Gongora-Corpus Christi Caller-Times, File)

Six members of a Houston family who died when their van was swept into a flooded bayou were related to the late singer Selena. The Tejano star's father, Abraham Quintanilla, disclosed in an Aug. 28 Facebook post, since taken down, that he was related to the Saldivar family, whose tragic death one day earlier made headlines. Quintanilla writes that the Saldivars were trying to escape the rising floodwaters dumped by Hurricane Harvey when their van floundered, People reports. "When they cross a bridge a wave of water swept the van and push them in to the bayou," Quintanilla writes. Only driver Sammy Saldivar managed to escape. The dead included Manuel Saldivar, 84, his wife Belia, 81, and their four great-grandchildren, ages 6 to 16.

Sammy Saldivar's brother, Ric Saldivar, told CNN last week that his brother was behind the wheel as the van approached the flooded bridge. He was unsure what to do, but father Manuel Saldivar told him to cross it. He made it to the other side, lost control in a dip in the road, and the van plunged into the bayou. He squeezed himself out of the driver's side window and grabbed a branch, clinging to it as he heard the children "screaming and crying, trying to get out of the van," Ric Saldivar says. Sammy Saldivar yelled to them to open the back of the van, but they didn't make it. Their bodies were found 800 feet downstream four days later, after the floodwaters receded, per My San Antonio. "These were our babies," grandmother Virginia Saldivar tells CNN. "It's unbelievable. A nightmare we can't wake up from." Sixty deaths have been blamed on Harvey, per KSAT. (Meanwhile, Florida and the Caribbean were bracing for Hurricane Irma.)

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