EXCLUSIVE: Mother of woman who drowned in flood speaks out

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The mother of a young woman is sharing her pain to pressure county leaders to make changes and prevent future deaths.

The mother of a young woman, who drowned in a water-filled underpass Monday, is sharing her pain to pressure county leaders to make changes and prevent future deaths.

In an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News, Claudia Cormier talked about how difficult it was to watch her daughter's final moments early Monday morning.

Claudia Melgar, 25, went around a truck barricade on the Westpark Tollway near Post Oak and drove into floodwaters at least 20-feet deep. The moment it happened until her SUV was no longer visible was captured by roadway cameras.

"It was horrible, horrible. That's the word. Seeing my baby ask for the help to the last breath," explained Cormier, who shared a very close relationship with her daughter.

For 15 minutes, Melgar used the light on her cell phone to signal for help. A Harris County Toll Road Authority first responder tried to swim to rescue her, but couldn't make it.

"She was fighting until the last minute for help and I know if she could help herself, she would," said Cormier. "I want him to know I'm very thankful for trying."

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Claudia Melgar drowned after she drove into high water at the underpass of Westpark Tollway near Post Oak.

Cormier says she now has strength from her daughter to take her pain public and ask for changes.

"I just want to save lives. I don't want other parents to go through what I'm going through," Cormier said. "We need to put a barrier there because no other people can die there."

Melgar, who dreamed of owning her own salon one day, was one of three people who drowned in underpasses at Westpark and the West loop Monday. Sunita Singh and Suresh Talluri drowned in two separate cars. Last Memorial Day another man drowned.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett promises barricades, gates or automatic arms in problem areas.

"We're going to do this and we're going to do this as soon as possible," said Judge Emmett. He says Governor Greg Abbott has offered the state's assistance. Emmett has dedicated two people full-time to work on a solution and a meeting with a number of government entities has been scheduled for next week. "We've got to change it."

"I don't want my daughter to die in vain," added Cormier who also advises people to turn around if they see flooded roads or, better yet, just stay home.
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