Woman who lost mother & daughter in Ozona wreck addresses how immigration played a part in their deaths

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 3:42 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2023 at 7:26 PM CDT
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OZONA, Texas (KSLA) - A humanitarian crisis is being caused by the massive surge of migrants arriving at the Texas-Mexico border. For one family, the immigration crisis has now directly impacted their lives forever, and now, they’re struggling to make sense of it all.

“It’s devastating, it’s infuriating, it’s gut wrenching,” said Elisa Tambunga.

Elisa got a phone call on March 13 that would change her life forever.

“I kept asking what was happening, and no one could really tell me or give me a clear definitive answer,” she said.

Elisa’s mother, Maria, and her 7-year-old daughter, Emilia, were innocent bystanders killed in a crash.

“I just need this to not happen again to anybody else. I need it to not happen to another mother. I don’t want another mother or family to go see how their bodies were just mutilated. They were mangled. Nobody should have to see a family member like that, let alone a mother see her child like that,” said Elisa.

Rassian Comer of Bossier City reportedly led police on a high speed chase on 1-10 that ended in west Texas. When Comer ran a red light, the truck collided with Elisa’s family, killing both on the scene. The truck Comer was driving was carrying 11 undocumented migrants, two of which were pronounced dead at the scene. Comer survived the crash, but sustained serious injuries, and was found to have multiple outstanding warrants; he’s now facing numerous charges.

“There is no reason why my 7-year-old baby’s life should be gone and taken away because of illegal immigrants running through our streets, running through our country, murderers, such as the driver, with no regards but himself, recording himself minutes before this accident, showing how fast he was going,” Elisa said.

Elisa is seeking accountability for this avoidable, senseless tragedy, demanding stronger border control laws, participation from both sides on a way forward with the immigration crisis. She has also made contact with Representative Tony Gonzales, who is working towards creating positive change with her.

“The fact that he was smuggling illegal immigrants, just shows that our country is in a crisis. Our community here feels it all the time; the surrounding community feels this pressure all the time,” Elisa said.

On March 22, Comer was released from the hospital and taken into custody. He’s charged with felony smuggling of persons causing serious bodily injury or death. He is also facing other charges as well. For this grieving mother, burying her mother and daughter has been unbearable. Her mother, Maria, was known for her kindhearted and generous spirit. The entire community of Ozona is mourning the loss.

“She was always doing something for someone, whether it was, not just me and my dad or my sister, but strangers,” Elisa said of her late mother, Maria.

She says the only comfort she has now is that she was able to bury her mother and daughter together.

“I am home waiting for her to come home and hear ‘mommy.’ And the fact that I’ll never hear that again, it just kills me. This world is so much dimmer without her in it,” said Elisa.

Elisa says there were hundreds in attendance for the funerals, so many in fact that the local floral shops sold out of flowers and they had to start creating artificial ones.

Comer is currently being held without bond in Crockett County, Texas. No court date has been set at this time. Elisa says she will meeting with Rep. Gonzales for a one-on-one on April 6.