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Mother of Drowned Dad: 'You Can Tell He Was Trying to Protect Her'

Another migrant says family ignored warnings not to cross river
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2019 5:35 PM CDT
In this Sunday, June 23, 2019 photo, Tania Vanessa Avalos of El Salvador speaks with Mexican authorities after her husband and nearly 2-year-old daughter were swept away by the current while trying to...   (AP Photo/Julia Le Duc)
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(Newser) – "You can tell he was trying to protect her." So says the mother of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, the migrant who left El Salvador seeking a better life for his toddler daughter only for both of them to drown, the little girl's arm wrapped around her father's neck, in the Rio Grande trying to cross into Texas. A haunting photo of their bodies has sparked outrage across the US. "Seeing that image … he always protected her," Rosa Ramirez tells CBS DFW. She says they were trying to reach family in Irving, Texas, but Martinez's father says he only decided to attempt an illegal crossing after spending two to three months at the US Consulate in Mexico, attempting to seek asylum. No one would speak to him, his family says.

A fellow Central American migrant tells the AP she spoke to Ramirez and his family—wife Tania Vanessa Ávalos was also on the journey, but survived—in Mexico, but they tragically ignored her warnings about the Rio Grande. "They said to me, 'You haven't tried to cross the river?' We said to them, 'No,' because of the children more than anything. I don't know how to swim and my kids do, but either way I'm not going to risk it." Even more tragically, the AP reports that Ramirez made it across the river with his little girl, then tried to return to the other side to help his wife cross. The toddler, panicked at her father going back into the water, went in herself; he tried to save her, but both were swept away. (Trump blamed Democrats for the deaths.)

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