OKC Family Mourns Adults, Kids Killed After Taking Shelter In Drainage Ditch

Sunday, June 2nd 2013, 6:27 pm
By: News 9

The search continues Monday morning for two members of a family of seven that took shelter from Friday's tornado in a drainage ditch. 

According to family members, when the tornado sirens blared in Oklahoma City on Friday, Samuel Cifuentes left his home near N.W. 26th Street and Meridian with his wife, Florinda Santos and their son, Alex as well as her cousin, Yolanda Santos and her three children, Cristofer, Brandon and Lesly. The seven went only a few feet away into a drainage ditch, only to be washed away by floodwaters.

6/2/2013 Related Story: Search Continues For People Swept Away In Floodwaters

"They were in the ditch because they thought it was the safest spot because they just thought it was going to be a tornado, not a flooding. They didn't imagine that," said Enma Aguilar, a family member.

The family says they took a table from the home and hid under it in the ditch. Samuel's brother, Biron Cifuentes, is still trying to come to grips with his brother's decision to shelter there. He said he feels bad as one by one his family members are recovered.

Search crews with the Oklahoma City Fire and Police Departments recovered one of the victims on Saturday along Deep Fork Creek near Bell Isle Bridge, four miles from where the family took shelter. Family members confirmed it was Florinda Santos. On Sunday, the family says Florinda's husband Samuel and son Alex, as well as two of Yolanda Santos' children were found.

Crews say it's a search that has become challenging due to the terrain.

"There's probably a 50 foot drop off in some areas here," said Deputy Chief Marc Woodard with the Oklahoma City Fire Department. "It's real rough and rocky, a lot of trees and overgrown. It's just hard to access and get to."

Family members say it's a long and grueling search that is leaving little hope for any survivors.

Cifuentes said at this point "It doesn't matter if they are found dead or alive, I just want them to be found."

Crews are also searching for four other people, an adult and three children, who also took shelter in a drainage ditch near the Dell Plant at S.W. 15th Street and Interstate 44.