Things That Matter

A Tragic Accident Left Two Teenage Daughters Without Parents While Vacationing In Turks And Caicos

There is terrible news out of the Turks and Caicos Islands where authorities say three Texas tourists, including a married couple, drowned during a recent vacation. According to People Magazine, the couple, Irma Barrera, 33, and her husband, Roy Perez, 38, were vacationing with their 15-year-old daughter and the third victim and his daughter when they drowned after getting caught in a quick-moving tide this past Monday. 

The group was reportedly exploring Bambarra Beach, a popular and scenic tourist area when the group of five got caught in a tidal wave that fueled by strong winds. The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said the incident happened around 1 p.m. near the beach which is located on the sparsely populated island of Middle Caicos.

Barrera’s body would be found washed ashore shortly after the incident and after searchers scoured the beaches, they recovered Perez’s a few hours later. The third body, identified as Dr. Richard Okoloise, was discovered early on Tuesday morning with assistance from the US Coast Guard.

The terrible incident has now left two families torn apart and two children devastated by the loss of a parent.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The victims belonged to two families who hailed from Texas. Their families say the group was vacationing together along with their two girls. Residents in the area say that the families may have been attempting to swim a short distance through the shallow waters from Bambarra Beach to Pelican Cay, which is nearby to the beach when they were swept away in the fast-moving tide.

Rescuers were able to rescue both of the young girls from the water and save them from drowning. Both were being cared for shortly after by local social welfare services. Family members back home are working to get the children back to the home to the United States. According to KTRK-TV, family members of Barrera’s and Perez’s were traveling to the Caribbean archipelago on Wednesday to bring the couple’s daughter home and seek more answers on how this incident could have ever happened. 

“This was a tragic loss of life and obviously all of us are asking every question we can about what went wrong,” Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting said in a public statement. “Our thoughts and our prayers go out to everyone, most especially the children involved.

“We live in a world filled with many bad things, but we still have good Samaritans,” Botting added. “I would like to thank those who came to the aide of the children and everyone who were a part of the search and rescue, this includes volunteers, our Emergency Response Teams and the U.S. Coastguard Helicopter crew.”

We are now learning more about the couple and father who tragically drowned. 

Credit: @abcnews / Twitter

Families and friends are now mourning the horrible incident and remembering those who have been lost. According to her Facebook profile, Barrera worked as a nurse at Angleton Emergency Room while her husband is being called a “family man” by various friends on Facebook. 

“My classmate, friend, brother this is how I’ll remember you. Every picture with your family always brought a smile. A class clown to say the least! I remember about a year ago you messaged me saying that you were proud of me. Yet today I want to say how proud I am of you. Your daughters adore you man! Your daughters will forever be in my prayers. May You & your Wife Rest In Peace.” a friend wrote on his Facebook profile.

Okoloise, an emergency medicine physician in Angleton, Texas, is being also hailed a great person who had an undeniable love for his young daughter. He was said to have always wanted to travel to Turks and Caicos if he ever got rich. 

“He loved medicine, traveling, and his family,” Annamarie Kilgore, a friend and colleague of Okoloise wrote on Facebook. “I will miss his ridiculous talks. However, I’m thankful he was called while being in his favorite place in the world. He always told me ‘if I ever disappear after a lottery win, I’ll be hiding in Turks and Caicos.'”

The deadly incident has prompted calls from local residents for authorities to put up warning signs on the islands which are often-deserted beaches. It’s yet to be determined if any action will be taken to further stop any future incident similar to this. 

Family friends have set up a GoFundMe page to pay for funeral arrangements.

READ: Central Americans Flee Their Countries Because Of Violence But Also Because They Have No Water

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Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

Things That Matter

Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

Photo: Vanessa Tijerina/Facebook

Texas police are currently trying to get to the bottom of a disturbing incident that happened in Raymondville on Monday.

Former Republican candidate for Texas state Senate, Vanessa Tijerina, posted a shocking 10-minute Facebook Live video detailing the brutal assault she experienced in a nearby hotel on Monday.

Tijerina appeared in the video with her face looking unrecognizable. She had two black eyes–both of which were swollen almost completely shut.

Her face was covered in bruises. Her speech was impaired from how much swelling she was experiencing. It looked–to be blunt–like she had been beaten to a pulp.

Through tears, Tijerina explained to her followers that she was lured to a hotel room by some unnamed assailants who led her to believe they had “something really really really important” to tell her that they couldn’t tell her over the phone.

But once she was alone in the hotel room, the assailants “gagged, bound [and] tortured” her.

“I was beaten. I was terrorized, bound, gagged, tortured,” she said in the Facebook Live video.

“I never fought back because I knew that if I fought back, it would’ve been worse and I probably wasn’t going to survive. And I needed to survive for my daughters.”

Although a motive for the assault hasn’t yet been established, Tijerina is a relatively high-profile figure in Texas’s Raymondville community. She is active on social media and regularly goes on Facebook live to engage with her followers and supporters. And with her high profile comes a litany of critics and haters who have created troll accounts with the express purpose of smearing her.

Despite all this, Tijerina refutes the rumors that she “did something” to motivate the beating.

“There was nothing that I did that made this okay for this to happen to me,” she said. Tijerina began to get increasingly more emotional as she talked about her children and the fact that she was not able to give her children the toys she bought them for Christmas.

So far, Raymondville police have arrested three suspects in connection to the assault: Amanda Salinas, Ariel Jamie Vela and Ramon Donato Santana Jr. As for who was on the phone giving orders at the time of the assault, police are still looking for answers.

As of this writing, the police have not yet publicly revealed a motive. But since her attack, Tijerina has again taken to her Facebook page to assert that the assault was “100% motivated by hate.”

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In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said Want To Travel

Culture

In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said Want To Travel

©Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Covid put a stop to our travel plans for 2020. After almost a year in lockdown, we have had time to plan fantasy trips and explore the world. We asked you where you wanted to visit and here are some of the places you all can’t wait to see.

Argentina

Argentina offers something for everyone. As on of the southernmost countries in the world, Argentina offers natural sights that will make nature lovers swoon. Into architecture? Cities like Mendoza offers a look at the art-deco style that will make you feel like you are back in time. Don’t forget to try to make a trip down to Ushuaia, the End of the World for a spectacular view.

Cuba

Cuba is a tricky one but a beautiful place to see. The country is filled with old buildings and cars that make it feel like a time capsule. Now, the island is old because they are oppressed and don’t have much. But you can always find ways to make sure that you help people of the island instead of giving the money to government approved businesses.

Costa Rica

This is about as wild and wondrous as it gets. Costa Rica will give everyone a chance to really be one with nature. The Central American country is a rainforest oasis with nature everywhere you look. The country prides itself on how development is not encroaching on nature and has even outlawed zoos and aquariums.

Honduras

Honduras is an underestimated place to visit. The food and people are warm and inviting. There has been some unrest in the country in recent years and a series of hurricanes has devastated the population. Tourism is a great way to bring money into a place the needs it. Just don’t take advantage of them while you are there.

Mexico

Mexico is a country filled with wonders new and old. You can experience the ruins of some of the oldest civilizations and bask in the modernity of Mexico City. The food is as diverse and vibrant as the people with delicious moles in Oaxaca and experimental fusions in Mexico City. Valle de Guadalupe is home to some farm to table restaurants and exquisite wineries. It truly is a journey of the sense if you take time to see the country.

Colombia

Colombia is one of South America’s gems. After years of internal conflict, the nation is growing and quickly becoming a destination. Bogotá and Medellín are great but make it a point to visit Cali. The city is one of the place everyone should visit if they make their way to Colombia.

READ: Mexico Announces 11 New Pueblos Mágicos And It’s The Post-COVID Travel Lust We All Need Right Now

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