US citizen among Guatemala earthquake victims

AP News
Posted: Nov 09, 2012 8:03 PM
US citizen among Guatemala earthquake victims

SAN CRISTOBAL CUCHO, Guatemala (AP) — An 11-year-old boy killed in Guatemala along with nine relatives when a 7.4-magnitude earthquake buried them in rubble at their rock quarry was a U.S. citizen, the family said Friday.

Aldo Dominguez Vasquez was born in Santa Clara, California, and his parents still live in the United States, a cousin, Julio Vasquez, said.

The boy returned to Guatemala with his mother when he was 1 year old after his parents divorced. Shortly afterward, Aldo's mother returned to the United States to work and left the boy with an aunt and uncle who owned the quarry, Vasquez said.

Aldo, his uncle and aunt, six of their children and another cousin were working at the quarry when the earthquake hit Wednesday.

Only one son survived, a 19-year-old who stayed home when the others went to the quarry so he could take care of last-minute details for receiving an accounting degree. Ivan Vasquez was the first in his family to have a professional career, and his father, who was killed, had been saving for a party to celebrate the Nov. 23 graduation.

Aldo, who according to his U.S. passport was born Dec. 27, 2000, was one of at least 52 people killed in the quake, which was Guatemala's strongest in 36 years.

He was buried Friday along with seven cousins, the oldest a 14-year-old girl, and his aunt and uncle after an all-night wake in San Cristobal Cucho, a farm town of about 15,000 inhabitants.

Relatives carried the 10 rustic wooden coffins on their shoulders from a hilltop down to a park, where hundreds of people approached them to pay their respects. From there, the coffins were taken to the cemetery while people in the procession sang "beyond the sun, beyond the sun, I have a home, a sweet home."

Ivan Vasquez hugged each of the 10 coffins, then collapsed onto the ground, crying uncontrollably.

Antonia Miranda, Aldo's teacher, said she would miss the boy's warmth.

"He would caress my hair while he talked to me," she said sobbing.