Houston area funeral home owner volunteers services to victims in San Antonio truck tragedy

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HOUSTON – Compean Funeral Home owner Gregory Compean said the recent discovery of dozens of migrants’ bodies found piled in the back of a truck trailer in San Antonio Monday has moved him to volunteer his services so they can be returned to their families for proper funerals and burials in their countries of origin.

“This is only the beginning, I can tell you this. This is going to be a marathon. This is not going to be a sprint,” Compean said. “Anytime human remains are shipped out of the country, those remains have to be properly embalmed within all the rules and regulations in the state of Texas to be accepted by that other country.”

Compean said all of the bodies have to be identified and casketed and international documents have to be retrieved from their countries of origin. Then, there must be coordination with the airlines. Compean is familiar with the process, having helped out during a similar situation in Victoria, Texas back in 2003 when 19 immigrants died after being smuggled in a hot trailer.

“In 2003, the Mexican consulate made a decision to let us handle all of the 19 cases because that way you had the accountability,” Compean said.

In this case, the high number of bodies and possible state of decomposition because of the extreme heat will present even more challenges he says, but as someone who can relate to having to fight for the American dream, Compean believes it’s his duty.

“My grandparents were not born in this country, and once upon a time envisioned for a better life and opportunity, and as we sit here today as beneficiaries of that sacrifice from my grandparents, it’s the right thing to do,” Compean said.

Because of the complexity of the situation, Compean anticipates it to be no sooner than mid-next week for the bodies to begin being released from the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s office. He says it could take weeks more to get some of them back home.

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