GUATEMALA CITY -- A simple friend's advice to keep close to the door could have saved Yenifer Yulisa Tomas, 53 other migrants, from being left in a semi-trailer on the San Antonio edge last week.
The 20-year old woman from Guatemala's capital spoke by phone Monday from her hospital bed. She said that it was already hot when she stepped out from the Texas border warehouse where she had been waiting, and into the trailer.
According to her, the smugglers took their phones and covered the trailer's floors with powdered chicken broth. This was apparently to throw out any dogs at the checkpoints. The powder made her skin itch as she sat in the trailer filled with dozens of other people.
Cardona Tomas remembered her friend's warning to keep close to the door so it would be cooler. She shared this advice with another friend she made on the trip.
Cardona Tomas, Cardona's friend, said that she had told her friend to stay close to (the entrance) and not go back. She is currently being treated at Methodist Hospital Metropolitan in San Antonio. The friend also survived.
People began to gather near the door, reminiscent of Cardona Tomas, as the truck made more stops to collect migrants. She didn't have a way to track the time.
"Some cried, others yelled. Most of the women were calling for the door to be opened because it was too hot.
She claimed that the driver of the taxi yelled back at her that she was about to arrive and that it took 20 minutes for them to get there.
She said, "People asked for water. Some had run out, while others had some."
Three others, including the driver, were also arrested and charged by U.S.prosecutors.
The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry stated that 20 Guatemalans were killed in the incident. 16 of these have been positively identified. Mario Bucaro, the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, stated that he hoped that the first bodies would be returned to their homeland this week.
Cardona Tomas stated that the truck was headed for North Carolina, but Houston was her destination.
Her father Mynor Cordona said Monday that "She didn’t have a job" and asked if he would support her in moving to the U.S. He stated that he had heard of other children who left their families without notifying them and ended up dying or disappearing so he decided to support her.
He paid $4,000 to hire a smuggler to transport her to the U.S., less than half of the total cost. She traveled from Guatemala in cars, buses, and finally in a semi-trailer to Texas.
He said, "I didn’t know she would travel in an RV." She said it would be on foot. The smugglers put her in the trailer at the very last moment, with two other friends who survived. One of the two is still in critical condition.
Cordona had kept in touch with his daughter until the morning on June 27, when he died. Cordona's last message was to him Monday at 10:28 AM in Guatemala or 11:28 AM in Texas. She wrote, "We're going in an hour."
Cardona Tomas and her family found out about the trailer's fate late at night. Two more days passed before her relatives in the United States confirmed her existence and admitted her to hospital.
"We cried so much," Cordona said. Cordona said, "I was even thinking about where we would have the wake and bury her." She is a miracle.