Refugee who waited 17 years to get into the U.S. killed in accident

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- A group of refugees who came to the U.S. with a dream saw their lives destroyed by an alleged drunk driver.

Claude Kalamba is from the Congo. He escaped genocide and went to a refugee camp in 1996. He lived there for 21 years, where he said times there were tough.

"Suffering, hungry, no treatment," said Kalamba.

Then in 2017, Kalamba, his wife and kids came to the United States through the refugee resettlement program.

It was a dream come true.

"After I found (a) job, I worked hard, I saved money, my family was good but the accident," said Kalamba.

Kalamba and three other refugees were returning home from work around 10 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2018, at 225 and Richey Road in Pasadena.

Prosecutors say 31-year-old Julio Rodriguez crashed into the car Claude and three other refugees were in.

Rodriguez was going the wrong way on the freeway with a BAC that was more than twice the legal limit.

The crash killed Jules Nzeyimana, a refugee from the Congo and Ahmad Omar, a refugee from Sudan.

Jules had waited 17 years to get into the U.S.

It left Bienvenu Sengiyumva, Jules' son, hurt. Kalamba was also injured. He suffered a broken hip and a broken leg. Months later, he's still walking with a cane.

For both Sengiyumva and Kalamba, the crash has prevented them from being able to work.

Their medical bills are adding up and they no longer have an income. This, after they came to the U.S. to escape genocide, only to be met with loss again.

Kalamba has a 7-month-old, 3-year-old and 5-year-old.

"They all depend on me, but now, no more, they're not enjoying their life as they did," said Kalamba.

The families have started a GoFundMe to help with expenses.

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