Texas family swept away in flood: 'They went to heaven holding hands'

Image Local apartment residents cross high water on North Braeswood Blvd to escape the flooding from Hurricane Harvey

Sally Salazar, 69, and Ruben Gonzales, 56, said Monday they were devastated to learn family members were inside a van that sunk Sunday in floodwaters.

It was the very same body of water into which four children of the Saldivar family and their elderly great-grandparents were swept as the van floated off a bridge Sunday as the children's father watched helplessly. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says the van was discovered in Green's Bayou in northeast Houston.

"He said, 'Climb to the top, go out the back door, '" the driver's brother, Ricardo Saldivar, told NBC. He described a lucky break for his brother Sammy, who was able to pull himself out of a van he was driving as it was caught up in risky floodwaters in Houston. Shortly after the van was submerged, police rescued a lone survivor - Sammy Saldivar, who had escaped from the vehicle and clung to a branch. "He loved anything Army and playing video games", she said of her grandchildren.

By the time Harvey bore down on Houston, it was a Saldivar neighborhood, through and through.

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Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Gonzales said that if rescuers have leads on missing persons or come across a body in the rising floodwaters - to report it immediately to authorities.

As of Monday, the Saldivars are among at least 14 dead, though that number will nearly undoubtely go up as the water recedes and the true impact of the storm becomes known.

KHOU-TV identified the six family members as 84-year-old Manuel Saldivar, 81-year-old Belia Saldivar, 6-year-old Daisy Saldivar, 8-year-old Xavier Saldivar, 14-year-old Dominic Saldivar and 16-year-old Devy Saldivar.

On Wednesday, as waters receded, sheriff's deputies were able to get closer to the van.

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"Sam calls my husband and tells him, 'They're gone, '" she told the AP. I believe that they will rebuild. The children's mother had left the four at home, she said.

"They wanted to make sure that we understood how they found Sammy", she said. "Him and mom and dad were under water already".

"Family, I just notified them". "I just keep thinking no matter how bad I feel, I know my brother Sammy is that much worse because he was right there and couldn't do nothing about it".

"These kids lived across the street from us and we would see them everyday".

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