Best friend of hospitalized immigrant speaks out

Manuel Chavez, 42, came to America to escape poverty and instead ended up almost losing his life.

Manuel Chavez, 42, came to America to escape poverty and instead ended up almost losing his life.

Chavez, who his friends call "Manalo," was one of the immigrants found suffering Sunday and ended up in a coma.

"He swallowed antifreeze because he needed something to drink," said his close friend Cecilia Rivera, who described his mindset in the truck as being so desperate to live that he took his chances by drinking the only thing he could find. "Just imagine, he drank antifreeze. I can feel the desperation he went through.

Chavez is receiving treatment at a local hospital, but Rivera has had to receive updates on his condition over the phone in Mexico. She said that last week, Chavez, who has a little girl at home, fled poverty in the tiny town of Mantazas in Jalisco to pursue the American dream.

“They had no ventilation and they were left alone. The heat and condition was really bad," she said.

He ended up crammed into a semi-trailer like cargo, with no air, no food and no water.

She said that the smugglers also took away his cell phone so he couldn't reach out to anyone. But hope came on Monday when, she says, Manalo woke up from his coma and was responsive.

"He woke up and recognized his brother," she exclaimed as she hopes for a reunion one day. "That would be a miracle."

KENS 5 has also been in touch with Manalo's brother, who is in town by his bedside. But there’s no word on the details of his medical condition since he awoke from his coma.

Experts say that antifreeze can damage the liver, brain and kidneys.

Chavez's family is headed to San Antonio from Mexico and they've already hired attorney Margaret Wong and Associates to help him fight to stay in the U.S.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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