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Pets discovered, returned to grieving family
A crash on IH-35 in La Salle County last month in which two children were killed remains under investigation by the Department of Public Safety.
Meanwhile, charitable efforts by local officers have ensured that a puppy and kitten that belonged to the accident victims have been treated and returned to the family in Houston.
Emergency responders were dispatched shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 18, to the accident scene approximately four miles south of Cotulla to find that 7-year-old Julian Vela of Houston had been killed when the vehicle in which he was traveling veered off the interstate and flipped a number of times.
The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
A boy identified as Heriberto Jaime Jr., 10, was found to have sustained serious injury and was airlifted to San Antonio, where he was later pronounced dead.
The La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS has confirmed that two further travelers required airlift to University Hospital in San Antonio and three required transport by ambulance to Frio Regional Hospital in Pearsall, including the driver.
Preliminary reports from the investigation have revealed that the vehicle driver may have lost control of the GMC Sierra truck in the northbound lanes of the interstate and may have overcorrected her steering, causing the vehicle to swerve and then tip over.
Investigators have indicated that distractions in the vehicle may have been the cause of the driver’s loss of control.
The Highway Patrol continues examining evidence from the fatal crash.
La Salle County Judge Joel Rodriguez reported in a brief statement after the incident that emergency responders discovered that the children traveling in the pickup truck had been holding a kitten and a puppy, and that the animals were found beside the highway in the following days.
Encinal Police Department Officers Angel Esparza and Jonathan Ponce reportedly spotted the children’s injured puppy beside the interstate on Friday, Aug. 20. When they stopped to investigate, the puppy reportedly jumped into the officers’ patrol vehicle and was wearing collar tags that identified it as being from Harris County. The officers reported later that that realized finding the puppy “may not have been a chance encounter” and that the animal may have come from the crash two days previously.
The puppy named Firu had suffered a broken leg and was found six miles from the scene of the accident. Encinal Police Chief Pablo Balboa III has reported that the dog belonged to the 7-year-old boy who had died in the crash.
The US Border Patrol reported that weekend that its agents had found a kitten beside the road and that it had likewise been identified as having survived the crash.
A Laredo veterinarian cared for the animals for several days before they could be reunited with the family. Arrangements were made by the Encinal Police Department to have the puppy and kitten returned safely to the grieving family in Houston.
“If those little creatures of God bring any comfort to the grieving, who have lost their children in this tragic incident, then Encinal PD’s gesture and the help of others are appreciated,” Judge Rodriguez wrote.