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Townspeople Help Relatives Of Victims Who Perished in Boxcar With AM-Aliens, Bjt

July 5, 1987

PABELLON DE ARTEAGA, Mexico (AP) _ A black bow hung Saturday on City Hall in this central Mexican farm town that was home for up to seven of the 18 illegal aliens who suffocated in a Texas boxcar.

″It’s the first time something like this has happened,″ Mayor Sergio Ortega Ramirez said, adding it was the most tragic incident this town of 17,000 had ever suffered.

Ortega Ramirez said the identities of three victims from here had been confirmed as Hector Carrillo Flores, Antonio Ramos Lopez and Jesus Cruz Perez. He said officials were awaiting word on the identities of the other four believed to have been residents of Pabellon de Arteaga.

The victims were found Thursday morning by a U.S. Border Patrol unit in a locked boxcar that had heated up to 130 degrees under the desert sun. They had been trapped for 14 hours in the car parked 90 miles east of El Paso.

The only survivor, Miguel Tostado Rodriguez, 21, also was from this town.

People took up collections to help families bring back the bodies, and the mayor said about $270 had been collected by Friday night.

He said parents of the three men whose deaths were confirmed went to Texas with documents and photographs of the others who died to help identify them.

Tostado Rodriguez’ mother, Socorro Rodriguez Gallegos, said the news of the deaths and her son’s survival created mixed emotions.

″On one hand, it made us very happy″ that her son had lived through the ordeal, she said. ″But there is sadness for all of the mothers who know that their sons went (to the United States and died).″

She said her son went to the United States ″to try to earn a living. Work is very scarce here.″ Tostado Rodriguez had previously worked at a Dallas reastaurant but returned to Mexico two months ago.

He and the other victims from here boarded a train Monday that took them from Pabellon de Arteaga in the central state of Aguascalientes to the U.S. border. Three other townspeople, planning to cross into the United States, also took the same train, according to Rosa Rom Reyes, the mayor’s secretary.

The sister of Mario Garcia Alvarez, 19, said he was among those who left the town Monday, and she held hopes he was not among the victims.

″My husband’s aunt called and said Mario Garcia doesn’t appear on the list″ of the dead, she said. But Garcia, the father of a 1 -year-old girl, was later identified by the mayor’s office as one of the 18 who suffocated.

The hope was also gone for the family of 17-year-old Carrillo Flores. He had gone to the United States for the first time to earn money to study music, according to his aunt, Maria del Carmen Carrillo Zapata.

She said her nephew had trouble with some courses in high school and she had encouraged him to pursue his interest in guitar.

″We supported him financially. He didn’t have to go ... and we didn’t want him to go,″ the aunt said.

Friends and relatives of those who left on the train for the border stopped at City Hall throughout the day Saturday seeking information.

Maria de Jesus Quiroz Vega, 21, waited at the building with her 3-year-old son for news of her husband, Aurelio Belmontes Jimenez, who had left on the Monday train but was not with the group of eight.

She said her husband had only enough money for the train fare to the border, and not enough to pay a smuggler to help him cross into the United States. But she added she was told her husband had contacted the same smuggler used by the victims of the boxcar tragedy.

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