Sanmiguelense Killed by Blanco River Overflow
By Atención staff
Torrential rains lashed the center of Texas on the weekend of May 23-25. The bad weather provoked overflowing of the Blanco River, wiping out everything in its path: trees, houses, and cars. In one of those cars, sanmiguelense José Alvaro Arteaga Pichardo was traveling home. On Facebook, there is a post from Diana Pichardo from Sunday, May 24, at 7pm, that states “friends and family, please help us to find my brother-in-law. The last time somebody saw him on the (highway) 166, he was coming to Wimberly with a final destination of Blanco County. He is driving a red 2001 Chevrolet Blazer. If you know something, please call…”
José Álvaro was from a rural community called Lira de Bocas, situated between the mountains on the road to Querétaro. There, his mother, Alicia Arteaga, commented to Atención that on Sunday, her husband, also a migrant in Texas, called her and announced that they could not contact José Álvaro. He also talked about the bad weather. Although they knew he was missing, they were hoping that he could be with some friends in Louisiana. “They called him all day On Sunday, and his cell phone rang until 1am on Monday, but he did not answer,” said Alicia, so they started looking for him.
José Álvaro was a good son, although he was a little shy and did not have many friends in the United States, commented the mother, who seemed very tranquil. She also remarked that he started going to the United States legally with a working visa when he was 18 years old. Once, his visa expired, and he was arrested by immigration officers and deported. He thought of applying for a new visa, but he didn’t think he would ever get one again, so he decided to cross the border again (illegally) 18 months ago. “I remember it because his son was born by that time. When we talked over the phone, he told me that immigration officers tried to catch him on the way, but he got lost and decided to keep going on until he was rescued by some Americans,” commented the mother. He lived in Blanco County, where he worked in construction and placing tiles. “He was working with an American, and he gave him tiles that my son would bring to finish his bathroom. He told me that three weeks ago; that was the last time we talked,” remembered Alicia.
Rubí was José Alvaro’s sister, and she showed Atención a photo that he sent her for his mother two weeks ago. In that photo he is wearing a hat and a pink shirt and is holding a Bud Light. “He sent that photo and asked Rubi to show it to me so I can see how he had gained weight because he was very skinny when he left,” highlighted Alicia. That was the last time she saw a photo of her living son.
Finally, on May 29, the authorities informed the family that they had found the dead body of José Álvaro inside the Blazer on the banks of the Blanco River. “Now we are just waiting for his arrival. We will hold the wake at his house; it is here next to mine.” Alicia pointed to the house.
José Alvaro’s cousin Rubí published a message for him on Facebook: “You wonder why? Because it was God’s will. I remember last year when we went to the chiropractor and after that, as always, we went for a cocktail. When I decided to get my tattoo, you told me that I will not stand the pain, and I did. You also told me that my dad will punish me. Now they are just memories. I am going to miss you, cousin, and the pain that you are leaving is immense, but someday we will meet again.”
José Alvaro’s family received support from the Mexican consulate in Texas for the transfer of the body. The Guanajuato Migrant’s Institute paid for the funeral services. The city hall Department of International Affairs was the liaison between the family and the Migrant’s Institute.
Before receiving support from the government, the relatives of the deceased started a website for raising funds for the funeral service and transfer expenses. An update states that all the extra money will go to Pichardo’s widow and son. For donating, go to www.gofundme.com/v5dtbsk