Officials on Sunday identified the 13 people involved in a fatal crash Saturday near Telferner that killed five.
Nora Gabriela Chavez, 42; Oscar Chavez, 45; Adrian Leal Rodriguez, 47; a 13-year-old girl; and a 6-year-old boy were pronounced dead at the scene.
The deceased were traveling in a white passenger van with five other family members: Edna Veronica Hernandez, 38, who is in stable condition at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston; Andres Chavez, 19; Oscar Alejandro Chavez, 21; Andrea Chavez, 17; and a 13-year-old girl, who is in stable condition at University Medical Center in San Antonio after being transported from Citizens Medical Center.
Sgt. Ruben San Miguel of the Texas Department of Public Safety did not release the names of juveniles.
Tania Carreón, who has worked with the two sisters at Brownsville Independent School District, identified the two deceased children as 13-year-old Camila Rodriguez and 6-year-old Sebastian Rodriguez. She identified the surviving 13-year-old as Edna Rodriguez.
The van was heading north on U.S. 59 from the Brownsville area to Galveston for a cruise when the crash occurred.
The van’s driver, Nora Gabriela Chavez, and a passenger, her sister Edna Veronica Hernandez, had taken their families on a similar vacation at this time last year, said Carreón.
Carreón said the two sisters had both been teachers at Brownsville Independent School District. She also said she taught all the children involved in the crash, including Sebastian, who was in her class this past school year.
“He was very happy,” Carreón said. “Always on top of everything.”
Carreón said the family was very involved in the community in and around Brownsville.
The wreck also involved a semitrailer and a Ford F-250 pickup truck.
The occupants of the pickup truck, Oscar Daniel Garza, 55, and Anna Lee Bettancourt, 51, were both injured and transported to Citizens Medical Center. They have since been released.
The driver of the semitrailer, Dennis Lee Harridge, 58, was the only person uninjured.
The crash occurred when the van was northbound on U.S. 59 in the left lane at the intersection of U.S. 59 Business and U.S. 59 North. It struck a semitrailer that was northbound in the outside lane, San Miguel said.
The collision caused the driver of the van to lose control, cross over a grassy median and strike a southbound white Ford F-250 head-on.
The cause of the crash was still under investigation Sunday night, San Miguel said.
“We are working diligently as a department with all our resources, from emergency management to the Texas Rangers, who are aiding us in resources and any kind of equipment we need to help us better understand contributing factors that led to this crash,” San Miguel said Saturday.
Though contributing factors are still unknown, he stressed the importance of paying close attention while traveling on Texas roadways.
“Pay attention when you’re driving,” San Miguel said Saturday. “The main thing is for drivers to be aware of how important it is to be alert when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Be alert to everything.”