Inseparable cousins and high school sweethearts: Everything we know about the victims who died in the Texas migrant truck

‘My children leave a void in my heart,’ said the Honduran mother who lost two of her sons in the San Antonio tractor incident

At least 46 bodies found in trailer, San Antonio officials say
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A pair of teenage cousins with plans to return home and build a house for their relatives. A young couple who had hoped to secure the American dream by finding economic security with their advanced degrees. And an 18-year-old younger brother, who tagged along on the trip north at the last minute after funds were secured by relatives already living the American dream.

The families of the 67 people who found themselves trapped inside a tractor-trailer turned metal cooker on Monday outside San Antonio have begun the unenviable task of trying to determine if their loved ones were one of the unfortunate ones to die inside the stifling trailer, or one of the slightly less fortunate ones who are now fighting for their lives at one of the region’s hospitals.

Officials have indicated that given the precarious nature of the people found dead inside the trailer this week, it’s going to be a “slow, tedious, sad,” process to let desperately anxious family members know the status of their relative. Some of those found dead might’ve been travelling alone, and therefore are without an immediate next of kin to confirm their identity, while others might’ve been using false identification.

As a result, Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores said identities will take longer than usual to be publicised, as they’ll need to take fingerprints and collect DNA samples to confirm the dead’s identity. This supplemental information may then need to be shipped to cities and remote villages miles away for further testing to corroborate with family members.

Ms Clay-Flores, who represents the district where the truck was found, described these challenges to reporters this week and emphasised that because of these unique conditions, officials would be unable to provide an exact timeline on when the process might wrap up.

Officials have begun releasing the nationalities of the deceased, which so far includes 27 people from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two people from El Salvador, said Francisco Garduño, chief of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute.

The sexes of the deceased have also been confirmed, with 40 men and 13 women being among the dead from Monday’s incident.

Though details are still scant, of the people who have been identified by family members, a common thread has emerged in their stories. The victims, most of whom seemed to skew young, loaded themselves into that trailer sometime in June in the hopes of finding a better life for themselves.

Here’s what we know so far about the victims who died in the San Antonio trailer tragedy:

A man shows a portrait of Wilmer Tulul, in Tzucubal, Guatemala, Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Wilmer Tulul and Pascual Melvin Guachiac

Wilmer Tulul and Pascual Melvin Guachiac were 13-year-old cousins from Tzucubal, Guatemala, a small Indigenous community in the mountains where most people earn a living through subsistence farming. The boys grew up doing everything together and planned to continue that tradition as they embarked on their next adventure in the same fashion they’d spent the better part of their childhood: side-by-side.

Wilmer reportedly last messaged his mother, Magdalena Tepaz, on Monday with the note: “Mom, we’re heading out,” according to the Associated Press. Relatives in Houston who were supposed to pick the two boys up this week relayed the terrible news, which was later verified by the Guatemalan government, to the children’s families. They were in the trailer on Monday and had not been one of the survivors.

Maria Sipac Coj holds a portrait of her son Pascual Melvin Guachiac in Tzucubal, Guatemala, Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Melvin’s mother, Maria Sipac Coj, a single mother of two, told the news agency that her son had dreams of going to the United States to study so that he could one day return home and “build my house”. A voice message from her son where he let her know that the pair were leaving was left on her phone on Monday, a message that she’s since deleted after finding it too painful to hear back his now-ghostly presence.

Magdalena Tepaz, center, and Manuel de Jesus Tulul, right, parents of Wilmer Tulul, wait for the start of a community meeting in Tzucubal, Guatemala

A smuggler had charged the teen boys $6,000 to secure passage to the US. Their final destination was Houston, a city that Wilmer’s father, Manuel de Jesus Tulul, said he had no clue how they planned to reach, but never believed that death was a possibility.

In this undated photo provided by Karen Caballero, her son Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero and his girlfriend Margie Tamara Paz Grajeda pose for a photo at an undisclosed location in Honduras

​​Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero, Margie Tamara Paz Grajeda and Fernando Redondo Caballero

Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero, 23, and his girlfriend, Margie Tamara Paz Grajeda, 24, were high school sweethearts who, despite only being in their early 20s, had spent nearly a decade together. Living in Las Vegas, Honduras, a small town with a population of about 10,000, they felt their options had become stunted as they applied for job after job without ever hearing back.

When a relative of Andino Cabellero reached out to the young couple to let them know they could help finance a trip north for them, including the 23-year-old’s younger brother, Fernando Redondo Caballero, 18, the trio didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity.

In this undated photo provided by Karen Caballero, her son Fernando Redondo Caballero poses for a photo at an undisclosed location in Honduras

“We all planned it as a family so they could have a different life, so they could achieve goals, dreams,” said Karen Ballero, the mother of the two young men, in an interview with the Associated Press. The trio began their trek on 4 June, with their mother joining them up until Guatemala when she said they were smuggled into Mexico in the back of semi-trucks, not too different from the one where their bodies would be uncovered a few weeks later.

“I thought things were going to go well,” she said. "Who was a little afraid was Alejandro Miguel. He said, ‘Mom, if something happens to us.’ And I told him, ‘Nothing is going to happen, nothing is going to happen. You are not the first nor will you be the last human being to travel to the United States.’"

Karen Caballero, the mother of Fernando Redondo Caballero and Alejandro Andino Caballero who died near San Antonio, Texas, after being discovered in a hot trailer full of migrants being smuggled into the US, is comforted during an impromptu conference at their home in Las Vegas, Honduras

After learning of the devastating news coming out of Texas on Monday evening, the mother quickly sent in photos and personal information to officials in San Antonio about her children and Paz Grajeda, who she considered more like a daughter-in-law. The hope that this intel would help rule the trio out as one of the 53 victims claimed in the human trafficking disaster was quickly diminished after officials confirmed all three had been found dead inside the tractor.

“My children leave a void in my heart,” she told the Associated Press, remembering how her younger son would try to imitate his older brother, while Alejandro Miguel himself was known for being both a good hugger and dancer. “We’re going to miss them a lot.”

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