Officers have located a submerged van in which six members of a Houston family were traveling when it was swept off a Houston bridge and into a storm-ravaged bayou.
She says authorities expect to find more bodies in homes and cars as the waters from Harvey begin to recede.
The Harris County sheriff's office confirmed in a tweet that it had rescued Sammy Saldivar and that he had told them the van was swept away before his eyes, but they could not confirm any other details.
"He could hear the kids screaming and crying, trying to get out of the van", Sammy's brother, Ricardo Saldivar, told NBC News on Tuesday.
Although the driver - the children's great-uncle - was able to escape the auto before it went under water, the rest of the family was unable to make it out, KHOU 11 reported.
"That keeps playing in his head", Ric said.
After floods stranded them in their respective homes, a chain of phone calls between the brothers and their wives informed Saldivar that, suddenly, his family may be much smaller.
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The van ran into trouble van after it crossed a bridge and hit high floodwater on Green River Drive. "The water picked the van up, and it was just floating after that", Ric said.
This 2014 photo provided by Virginia Saldivar shows her grandchildren Daisy, from left, Xavier and Dominic Saldivar, three of the four children presumed dead after their van sank into Greens Bayou on Houston's eastside.
The water was so deep the van bobbed up and down. "Him and mom and dad were under water already". "He loved his family and he would defend them against anything".
"He was yelling at the kids to climb out of the back of the van; I'm sure they couldn't reach it", Ric told the outlet. "A big goof" and a delight to all who saw her, Catherine said. Then he turned to his mother and father and grandnieces and nephews, and the sinking van that trapped them. I've spoken with the family that's standing by, to try to update them and comfort them as best I can.
Harvey weakened to a tropical depression on Wednesday night, the US National Hurricane Center said, but warned that "catastrophic and life threatening flooding will continue in and around Houston, Beaumont/Port Arthur, eastward into southwest Louisiana for the rest of the week".
"Sammy said, 'Well, maybe I should go back, ' " Ric said.