Standing Tall Together
The morning of Sunday, May 7, 2023, at the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center in Brownsville, Texas started off like many others do – quiet and tranquil. On this day, staff of this emergency shelter for people and families without housing prepared for the day ahead while individuals staying at the shelter worked on legal items for their immigration cases, contacted loved ones, and prepared for other activities of their day. However, in only a matter of seconds, the stillness of the morning transformed into horror. Several migrants, the majority of whom were recently arrived Venezuelan men, awaited a bus outside of the shelter. At around 8:30 am, a man crashed his vehicle into the group, tragically causing the injury of ten people and ending the lives of eight young men1.
While the District Attorney seeks criminal prosecution against the driver, the sense of grief looming over the community and victims’ families is definite and ever-present following this tragedy. Among the deceased was eighteen-year-old Jose Javier Cario-Moreno, who was survived by his father, stepmother, and stepbrother. Jose Javier’s surviving family members had also recently arrived in the United States, and they had been in New York for only a few days before learning of the tragic news. Jose Javier’s father shares, “After months, I have not overcome this sense of grief; I would have liked for my entire family to benefit from this assistance, but this unfortunately was not the case. Losing my son was a blow.”
When news of the incident broke, the ProBAR team sprang to action and identified ways to support affected victims, survivors, witnesses, and families like the Cario family. Several ProBAR departments played an integral role in offering services such as legal screenings and representation, social services, and pro bono connections. ProBAR stood in solidarity amid the ongoing investigations, difficult conversations informing family about the events, and overarching feelings of pain and loss following the tragedy.
Despite having recently arrived in New York with plans to reside there when the tragedy took place, the Cario family had to make the journey to the Rio Grande Valley to receive the remains of their child. Like many other victims’ loved ones, the family had to sort through the heartbreaking and confusing situation they found themselves in. The family sought assistance from ProBAR after consulting with our team at the shelter. Various departments at ProBAR stepped in to support the Cario family. From arranging transportation to providing legal representation and connections to services, the ProBAR team offered a helping hand to the family during this challenging time.
Mr. Cario-Mijares shares, “The ProBAR team was a foundation, serving as a pillar throughout our family’s emotional, mental, and sentimental journeys. Thanks to you, we are standing tall in this moment.”
When reflecting on the ways in which ProBAR has assisted his family, Mr. Cario-Mijares voices his appreciation and notes, “I hope that in the future the ProBAR team is able to help many more individuals, as I find your work exceptional.”
ProBAR is grateful to all of the staff members, community organizations, and pro bono partners who responded to the tragedy in support of the individuals and families affected, and we are proud to have played an important role for families like the Carios.
1 Those killed in the crash respectively include Jose Javier Cario Moreno (18), Cristian Jesus Sangranis Rodriguez (19), Brayan Garcia (24), Hector David Medina Medero (24), Enyerbeth Cabarcas Meza (23), Luis Jeffrhey Matute Vasquez (31), Jorge Luis Flores Colina (48), Richard Alejandro Bustamante Perez (27)