"No sleep & anxiety, please let this pass sooner", Devy Saldivar, 16, wrote on Facebook around 5:30 a.m. Sunday. Ric Saldivar is the uncle of the four children. As thousands of others around the Houston area similarly sought refuge from the unrelenting wrath of Harvey, he drove over a waterlogged bridge heading over Greens Bayou in eastern Houston, encouraged by his father to do so in spite of the apparent danger of the waters. Three family members confirmed the incident, but authorities have yet to release an official statement.
Ric Saldivar called his brother and told him to bring the family members to his house on higher ground.
"That keeps playing in his head", Ric said.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says the victims' relatives are devastated by the discovery.
"The van was just bopping in the water - that's how deep the water was - and he could hear the kids screaming and crying trying to get out of the van", Saldivar continued.
Harvey weakened to a tropical depression on Wednesday night, the US National Hurricane Center said, but warned that "catastrophic and life threatening flooding will continue in and around Houston, Beaumont/Port Arthur, eastward into southwest Louisiana for the rest of the week".
The family's van was located Wednesday morning after getting swept away on Sunday.
Saldivar believes her husband's parents, Manuel Saldivar, 84, and Belia Saldivar, 81, drowned along with her grandchildren: Daisy, Xavier, Dominic and Devy.
Along with the sheriff's office, the Houston Police Department assisted in recovering the van, and the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science is also on the scene.
Saldivar climbed out of the driver-side window but the van's sliding door was partially submerged and would not open, Virginia Saldivar said.
"Family, I just notified them".
"Sammy said, 'Well, maybe I should go back, ' " Ric said. "Unfortunately it seems like our worst thoughts are being realized".
The dentist who employs the children's family member, Esmeralda, who is a dental assistant, started a GoFundMe page to help benefit the grieving family. "He loved his family and he would defend them against anything", she said.
Ms. Salazar, who works at Legal Aid of Western Ohio and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, said her co-workers provided strong support. The children were good kids, Ms. Salazar and Mr. Gonzales said.