Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 7, 2003
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez
Phone: (512) 463-0127

Victims Families, Survivors and Participants of Queen Isabella Bridge Collapse Honored

Senate Bill 139 renaming bridge passes in Committee

Group photo
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Clarissa Hinojosa Arellano, Gaspar Hinojosa II, Omar Hinojosa, Daisy Harris-Read, Pat Harris, Idalia Morales, Gustavo Morales, Jr., Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., William Welch, Jackie Golterman, Sen. Teel Bivins (R-Amarillo).

AUSTIN, TXToday the Texas Senate paid tribute to the deceased victims, their families and the survivors of the collapse of the Queen Isabella Causeway by offering unanimous approval to Senate Memorial Resolution 565 by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville).

Earlier in the morning, the Senate Committee on Infrastructure Development and Security passed Senate Bill 139, renaming the Causeway, which collapsed September 15 when it was struck by a string of barges, the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge. SB 139 will now be sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Honored on the Senate floor were Jackie Golterman (Chealsas mother) and her three-year-old grandson William Welch, who lost both his mother and father--Chealsa and Barry Welch. Also present were Clarissa Hinojosa Arellano, Gaspar Hinojosa II, and Omar Hinojosa who lost their father, Gaspar S. Hinojosa. Daisy Harris-Read and Pat Harris came to remember the loss of their brother Robert Harris, then Fire Marshal for Port Isabel. Gustavo A. Morales, Jr., a survivor, and his wife Idalia, also attended.

The two other survivors who did not attend were Brigette Goza of Port Isabel and Rene Mata of Laguna Vista.

Speaking to his colleagues, Sen. Lucio said, For this reason, I stand before you today and ask that you honor the memory of the deceased and all those who did everything in their power to lessen the pain for all of us.

Sen. Lucio also remembered the valiant and untiring efforts of the many individuals and groups who helped with the rescue, rebuilding of the bridge, and meeting other needs caused by the collapse. He praised Governor Rick Perry, then-Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, David Dewhurst who was then Land Commissioner, state officials like Department of Transportation Executive Director Michael Behrens, Assistant Executive Director Amadeo Saenz, and Pharr Director Mario Jorge. Other participants mentioned were Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Robert Cook, and Assistant Director David McEarthron and Colonel Tommy Davis from the Department of Public Safety.

Local officials recognized were former South Padre Island Mayor Ed Cyganiewicz , Port Isabel Mayor Pat Marchan, Brownsville Mayor Blanca Vela and Cameron County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa. Also noted were businesses that provided food, water, shelter and comfort immediately after the tragedy like the HEB Corporation, CP&L and the Williams Brothers Company of Houston.

Highlighted for their prompt response and valiant efforts were the Port Isabel, Brownsville, San Benito, Weslaco, Los Fresnos and South Padre Island emergency medical services, police, fire and public works personnel.

By the grace of God and through the efforts of a lot of hard-working Texans, good did come out of this tragedy, added the Senator. The Texas Department of Transportation is taking steps to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.

An early collapse detection system is being installed, and in case of another accidental collapse, alarms and lights will be triggered, advising motorists and dropping a gate that will close off the bridge. Other collision-protection measures are also being developed.

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