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Ceremony to mark 10th anniversary of 19 deaths

By Melissa Crowe
May 12, 2013 at 12:12 a.m.

Elvia and Nicolas Blanco, of El Campo, cleaned the site where 19 immigrants died 10 years ago Tuesday. The couple regularly stops on their way to the Valley to remember the immigrants who died.

A decade has passed, and Elvia Blanco still cannot get the devastating images out of her mind of the 19 immigrants, the scratch marks inside the abandoned tractor-trailer and the truck stop on U.S. Highway 77 where they were left for dead.

She doesn't want to forget them.

By remembering the images of the 19 people who died May 14, 2003, their struggle to find a better life was not in vain.

On Thursday afternoon, she and her husband, both of El Campo, mowed the grassy patch of land outside Speedy Stop truck stop on Fleming Prairie Road.

Blanco, 43, did not have a memorial organized for the tragic anniversary but wanted to do what she could to honor them.

"We made a special trip out there just to clean it up so when the family members go out there, it would look nice," she said.

Lolita Parkinson, a spokeswoman at the Mexican Consulate in Houston, said every year someone from the consulate goes to place a wreath at the site.

This year, Domiciano Aldape organized a memorial for noon Saturday.

The ceremony will include talks from priests, Hispanic leaders, officials from the Mexican Consulate and people from the community.

Blanco said every time she and her husband pass by on their way to McAllen and Mexico, she thinks about the immigrants who died and those who have tried and are trying to make it to the U.S.

"I see how hard it is for these people, how they struggle," she said. "They have no choice but to try to come over here to try to support their families, to clothe and feed them."

She said they always make a stop to add to the memorial.

"It was just horribly devastating," she said. "I can't get that out of my mind, especially the 5-year-old little boy."

The boy, Marco Antonio Villasenor, of Mexico, was found wearing nothing but yellow terrycloth underwear. Reports from the day said his father, Jose Antonio Villasenor, seemed to be protecting the boy by forming a triangle with his arms.

"He was a taxi driver, and he wanted to come here to make a better life for him and his son," Blanco said. "That broke my heart. I always take him toys."



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