Raeford woman mourns loss of family members found in van swept away by Harvey

Posted August 30, 2017 6:26 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— A Raeford woman is in mourning after authorities confirmed that the bodies of six family members were {{a href="story-16916668"}]pulled from a van that had been swept off a Houston bridge into a bayou during Hurricane Harvey.

Up until Wednesday morning, Xiomara Paredes feared the worst, but was still holding out hope that her family members somehow made it out of that sinking van.

Paredes and her family lived in Houston until the military reassigned her husband to Fort Bragg in 2015. She said her family members were trying to get to higher ground, but her great uncle lost control when he hit a dip in the road.

"When the great uncle managed to get out, he saw the van go under and before rescuers arrived, it had already been 45 minutes and he saw nothing," Paredes said.

Paredes lost four nieces and nephews between the ages of six and 16 as well as their great-grandparents. She said the pain of the loss is too much to bear.

“This news is devastating. You never expect to get this kind of news, especially with them being so young. Their life was just beginning, but right now I am just at peace that they were found and now we have closure and able to do the next step,” she said.

Paredes said her cousin, the mother of 6-year-old Daisy, 8-year-old Xavier, 15-year-old Dominick and 16-year-old Debbie, lost all four of her children in that van.

"I have my two kids and I can't imagine losing them. I mean, no parent should have to deal with this. It's hard," she said.

Paredes said all she wants to do now is return home to Houston to be with her family, some of whom are in areas that were hardest hit by the storm.

"It's hard for me being away from home, wanting to be there next to them, holding them, not being able to do much but just be there for them. It's hard," she said.