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SAN ANTONIO — Yazmín Nayarith Bueso Nuñez, a single mother from Honduras, had reassured her father that she’d be safe on what she said would be a “special trip” to the U.S.
She has been identified as one of the 53 people who died inside a tractor trailer rig found abandoned on a San Antonio roadside Monday, Telemundo News reported.
As of Thursday, 10 survivors remained hospitalized and one had been released.
“No words,” her distraught father, José Santos Bueso, said. He had urged her not to go, but she told him it was a special trip.
“I was there, daughter,” The Associated Press said he told her, referring to the trip he himself once made across the border. “There are no special trips.”
She told him the smuggler would be making $15,000, the AP reported.
Stories of the humble hopes that drove people to leave their homes and families and risk an ill-fated journey continue to emerge as officials slowly identify the dead and reach their loved ones.
Many of the victims did not have documents or were from remote areas in Latin America.
Bueso’s brother, Erik Rodríguez, 37, said his sister wanted to get to the U.S., work to give her teenage son a chance to study at a university and one day own a home. She also was seeking treatment for lupus, he said.
One father, Minor Cardona, of Guatemala, learned his 20-year-old daughter is among the survivors, Telemundo News reported.
“It’s a joy and a blessing,” he said.
Roberto Quintero was one of the first to see the grim scene on Monday. A friend had alerted him to the truck and bodies within it. He said the truck doors were open when he arrived. He knew many had died because of their discoloration.
A young girl was on the ground pounding the pavement asking for help. He gave her water and called 911, he told Telemundo.
Federal charges made public in a court hearing Thursday state that one of the men arrested in the case told a government informant the air conditioning in the tractor trailer had stopped working without the driver knowing, The Washington Post reported.
Federal officials have identified the driver as Hector Zamorano Jr., 45, who made his first appearance federal in court Thursday on one count of illegal transportation of immigrants, punishable with up to life in prison or death if convicted.
Three others have been charged in the case, including Christian Martinez, 28, who had been texting the driver. He became more panicked in the texts when he was not hearing from the driver.
The tragic deaths have stirred emotions in San Antonio, a city with a large Latino population that is mostly Mexican American. Many in the city have strong immigrant roots or family that resided in the state while it was part of Mexico.
The city has a record of compassion for immigrants and empathy for their plight.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio held a memorial Mass on Thursday evening at the historic San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio, founded in 1731.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, who presided at the Mass, called for immigration reform in his bilingual homily, The San Antonio Express-News reported. He exhorted people to “create political incentives for our elected representatives to fulfill their duty to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
García-Siller had pressed for a political change of heart on immigration after visiting some of the victims at the hospital the night after the truck was found. “The bottom line is that people were abandoned,” he told NBC News this week.
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