GALVESTON, Texas — Twin 13-year-old boys who drowned in Galveston last month were laid to rest in Honduras last week. Their mother recently spoke out about what happened the day the boys disappeared in the water.
The grieving process has been long, and as anyone could imagine, it wasn't easy to say goodbye. Cinthia Perez said she'll never forget that Sunday in March.
"Todo fue muy rápido la verdad," she said.
Her sons were gone in the blink of an eye.
"Ellos venían con muchas ganas de luchar," she said.
Jefferson and Josue Perez were 13 and had only been in Houston since October. They came from Honduras, where Cinthia left them when they were 4. She fought her family for years to get her boys to the States to live out their American dream and it finally happened in late 2022.
"Ellos decían que estar aquí era estar en paraíso," she said.
The boys loved the United States. They were reunited with their mother and wanted to experience everything the country had to offer -- including going to the beach.
"Y todos los fines de semana cuando miraban el sol como eran los únicos días me decían hoy mami hay sol vamos," Cinthia said.
The sun prompted pleas for a trip to the beach and that's what they did on that fateful March 5. Little did she know that it would be the last time she would see her kids alive -- playing out in the water near Pleasure Pier.
"De repente ya no estaban ellos aga de cuenta que agache mi cabeza por tres segundos y ya los niños ya cuando voltie ya no estaban," she said.
She said they were in waist-deep water for one second, and when she looked back up, they were gone.
That's when a frantic search began. Crews spent days searching for Jefferson and Josue. As the days went by, Cinthia's hopes shrunk.
"A conforme fueron pasando los días mi fe se fue quebrantando se fue debilitando," she said. "Senti como algo que dejo sonar dentro de mi."
When they found the first body, she said she felt like something inside her stopped, as if her world ended. Her second son's body was found days later.
Cinthia said it's still very painful to think about what happened but she holds the memories of her boys close to her heart. It was an unparalleled love that she had never felt before.
"Era un amor que nunca había experimentado yo ese amor," she said.
Cinthia doesn't speak much English and said several people tried to scam her after her sons died. She said they even tried to collect money on behalf of them. Fortunately for Cinthia, an organization was by her side to help guide her through the entire process.
The Jesse Tree Survivor Support Network is a group of volunteers that helps people navigate life after death. The nonprofit's intent is to help families of drowning victims. It was created after the Galveston Beach Patrol chief wanted someone to be with loved ones during search efforts.
The group of volunteers helps families from the beginning when the search is actually happening, until the end (funeral process).