A couple and their four great-grandchildren who died as they tried to flee Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters last month were related to Tejano pop star Selena, the slain singer’s father said.
Abraham Quintanilla wrote on Facebook Aug. 28 that Manuel Saldivar’s mother, Carolina, was his father’s first cousin. Saldivar, 84, and his wife, Belia, 81, were seeking higher ground with their great-grandchildren Aug. 27 when the white van they were traveling in was swept off a bridge near Greens Bayou.
“My condolences to their family,” Quintanilla wrote. “Second Corinthians, Chapter 1, Verse 3 says, ‘Praised be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of Tender Mercies and the God of all comfort.’”
The children’s great-uncle, Samuel Saldivar, was driving the family to safety when the van suddenly nose-dived into the water, NBC News reported. After climbing out of a window, he tried to rescue the others while holding onto a tree branch, but was unable to.
By the time he reached dry land, the van was gone, the children’s grandmother, Virginia Saldivar, told NBC News. Virginia Saldivar herself had to be rescued from thigh-high floodwaters in her own home.
Loved ones said the tight-knit family was devastated by the loss.
“It’s so unfair,” the children’s aunt, Esmeralda Saldivar, tearfully told the network. “They were good kids. They didn’t deserve to die this way.”
Selena also died young in March 1995, when she was gunned down at a Corpus Christi motel by the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar. The 23-year-old singer ran for help in the motel’s office, where she collapsed. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Yolanda Saldivar, then 35, was arrested following a standoff with police, during which she threatened to shoot herself. The older woman, who had become a close friend of the Quintanilla family, had been accused a few weeks earlier of embezzling money from Selena’s fan club and from the Tejano superstar’s clothing boutiques.
Yolanda Saldivar, who is no known relation to the Saldivar family killed in Harvey’s floodwaters, was convicted of first-degree murder that October and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 30 years. Saldivar, who turns 57 later this month, will be eligible for parole in March 2025, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.