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'Let their deaths not be in vain': Crowds gather at prayer vigil to honor migrants who died in semitruck

The event featured mariachis, a prayer vigil, photo slideshow and speakers.

SAN ANTONIO — A large crowd participated at a memorial ceremony Wednesday evening to honor the 52 migrants who died one month ago in an overheated semitruck on the southwest side.

The event took place at the 9600 block of Quintana Road, where mariachis, a prayer vigil, a photo slideshow and speakers including Precinct 1 Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores were present.

“I feel like I need to fulfill this calling that I have to unite us, to make us stronger, to give us hope and to reframe or restart a different narrative on why migrants come to the United States of America,” organizer Sandragrace Martinez said.

At the start of the prayer ceremony, powerful words were said by one woman who stood in front of the 53 wooden crosses bearing victims’ names and the flag of their native country.

“We forgot to be compassionate,” Katrina Ornelas said. “Tonight may we remember, may we never forget that we are human beings.”

A sister of one of the victims asked Clay-Flores to tell everyone to pray for her brother, who remains in the hospital. He is one of 11 others who survived and are recovering from their injuries, which were largely heat-related.

“There are still two victims fighting for their live at local hospitals,” Clay-Flores said.

Following the prayer, mariachis performed while a slideshow played with photos of the 53 migrants who died.

The tragedy occurred in San Antonio on June 27, and is the deadliest human-smuggling incident in U.S. history. The victims were from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The two suspects at the center of the semitruck tragedy were indicted by a Bexar County grand jury on June 20, formally charging them with several charges punishable by up to life in prison, and potentially even the death penalty, if they’re convicted.


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