HOUSTON – Six children are mourning their mother after a freak accident in east Harris County Wednesday night.
Cherie Rangel was accidentally run over by her SUV Wednesday as she instructed her 11-year-old daughter to move it up a driveway, Jacinto City police said.
Relatives say the children saw their mother die and they are devastated.
"The kids were crying… They’re confused. They blame each other for what’s going on," said Lidia Hernandez, Rangel’s sister-in-law.
It happened at about 7 p.m. as the family was about to view a house that was for sale in the 10900 block of Verano.
Rangel had four of the children get out of the SUV while two children, including an 11-year-old girl, remained inside the vehicle, police said. Then the mother decided to pull the vehicle forward so that the landlord could pull in behind her vehicle.
"So the mom started the van, placed the vehicle in drive, and as she stands outside the vehicle with the door open, she guides the vehicle slowly, let it coast on its own free will forward and tells her 11-year-old daughter—that’s sitting in the middle seat—‘when I tell you to, step on the brake,’" Sgt. Dennis Walker said.
As the vehicle moved forward, Rangel told the daughter to step on the brake, but that didn’t happen.
"The girl steps on the biggest pedal that she sees—which is the gas -- and that floored the vehicle, and when the vehicle took off at a high speed, it threw the mom backward underneath the back wheel, which drug her from the tree area all the way up into the house, in the den area," Walker said.
"I running, I see the lady on the floor, the kids cry and everything. We can do nothing," said Celestina Diaz, the owner of the home Rangel came to see.
Walker said the mother was trapped under the vehicle’s back tire.
"Several people that came out had to lift the van up and drag her back a little bit," he said.
The medical examiner pronounced Rangel dead at the scene.
"Nobody deserves to die like that, in front of their children," said Lidia Hernandez.
The children witnessed the horrible accident and saw their mother’s lifeless body on the ground.
"They were hysterical, every last one of them, all of them were hysterical," Walker said. "One of the kids actually fell out of the vehicle, one of the doors was still open and she fell out and cut her foot."
The girl was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
The other children, including an 11-month-old baby, were quickly moved away from the scene and taken to the homes of relatives.
Family members say Rangel was a housewife who had just picked up a side job as a waitress to help support her children. She dreamed of moving the children from an apartment to a house.
"She was a great mom, always striving to do anything for her kids," said Veronica Hernandez.
Now the family is wondering how they will find the money to bury Rangel and care for her children.
"If anyone can help with funeral costs…," said Veronica Hernandez, Rangel’s sister-in-law. "Just pray for the kids, they're the ones who really need it."