WEST (CBSDFW.COM) – In West, the community is riding fresh waves of grief as families begin the somber task of burying the dead. According to a volunteer with the Texas Funeral Director’s Association, at least eleven funerals have been scheduled—one a day for the next week and a half.
Mariano Saldivar, 57, was remembered at a burial Mass on Tuesday at the Church of the Assumption in West. Saldivar lived at the apartment complex that was nearly leveled by the fertilizer plant explosion last week.
“He was a very good person,” said Jose de la luz Perez, speaking in Spanish to reporters, “ a good friend.”
Saldivar, was, by all accounts, a good man, leading an ordinary life—until the fertilizer plant explosion made his death national news.
His son, Saul, rushed to West from the Portland, Oregon, area following the explosion. On Friday, he carried around fliers with his father’s picture, hoping someone had found him or that he was still alive in the rubble.
Florentino Perez grew up with Saldivar in Mexico—and lived in those same apartments.
“I was at home,” says Perez. “But, I’m a firefighter, so I went to go get my bunker gear, and then it exploded.”
It was an eerie close call—one that’s left Perez feeling both grateful and guilty that he survived. But, he and his heartbroken city, must move on.
Felix Castro, Jr., admits that he really didn’t know Saldivar, well. But, in West, that doesn’t seem to matter. Castro was at the service, anyway, hoping to show support.
“This is West, man, we stick together,” says Castro. “I lost a brother here in 1966. This town stuck together then and it still does.”
Saldivar will be laid to rest in Portland, Oregon.
Meanwhile, more funeral services are planned. Kenneth “Luckey” Harris, Jr., a captain with Dallas Fire Rescue, was one of the first responders killed in the massive explosion. Services for Captain Harris are scheduled for 2:00 PM Wednesday at the Church of the Assumption in West.
Funeral directors from other communities have pitched in to help prepare for the services after their colleagues in West were overwhelmed with the number of victims—and some were even injured in the explosion.
“It is just overwhelming to see this community—to see how they have come together behind these families,” says Scott Smith, Texas Funeral Director’s Association, “and the help they’ve offered to these families.”
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