Houston police have found the van that was swept away days ago with four children and their two grandparents inside.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported the discovery on Twitter on Wednesday of a white van partially submerged in muddy water.
“We are sad to report we have found a van inundated by Greens Bayou flooding while purportedly carrying 6 family members Sunday,” the message from the department said.
A medical examiner was at the scene around 2 p.m. waiting to confirm the identities of the people inside the car, according to NBC. Divers were en route to recover the bodies and chaplains were on the way to console the family watching from a nearby bridge.
“They’re very saddened, obviously,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told NBC. “They’ve been very traumatized.”
The van was swept into the Green Bayou as it was crossing a bridge on Sunday afternoon. Sammy Saldivar, the children’s great-uncle, was driving the van. He was the only one who survived.
Saldivar climbed out of an open window and clung to a tree branch. He saw the children screaming inside and told them to get out, but the car sank too quickly.
“He said, ‘Climb to the top, go out the back door,'” the driver’s brother, Ricardo Saldivar, told NBC. “But [with] the van pointed straight down, they couldn’t climb up the van, much less open the door.
“He just seen the van go under the water.”
Four children, Daisy Saldivar, 6, Xavier Saldivar, 8, Dominic Saldivar, 14, and Devy Saldivar, 16, were inside together with their great-grandparents Manuel and Belia Saldivar, 84 and 81 years old respectively.
Saldivar, the driver, was still clinging to a tree an hour later when deputies found him. The van was already under four feet of water at the time, according to police.
“It was a miracle the one driver was rescued,” Gonzalez said.
The water level was too high on Monday and Tuesday for divers to look for the van, according to Gonzales. The van was spotted on Wednesday after the water had receded.
“We’re afraid we’ll be seeing a lot more of this as the water recedes,” the sheriff said.
The family are counted among 30 dead so far as a result of the floods resulting from the hurricane. The death toll is expected to rise as receding waters reveal the extent of the aftermath.