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‘The Pain Grows Every Day,’ Says Woman Who Lost Daughter, Mother in Crash With Vehicle Smuggling Illegal Aliens

One year ago Wednesday, Elisa Tambunga lost her mother and daughter at the hands of a human smuggler. 

Rassian Comer is accused of speeding through a red light in Ozona, Texas, crashing into Maria Tambunga’s pickup truck. Seven-year-old Emilia was in the back seat, and both she and her grandmother were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on March 13, 2023. Comer had 11 illegal aliens in his vehicle and was running from police when he collided with Tambunga’s truck. 

“Today marks a year, but the pain grows every day,” Elisa Tambunga said. “I have vivid flashbacks of how cold they were. How helpless I felt. It plays back for me in slow motion,” the mother said, adding, “That’s why my family and I fight so hard. That is why we haven’t let up.” 

About a month after the accident, Tambunga, her father, and her sister traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Republicans’ Congressional Hispanic Conference and with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In July, Tambunga testified before Congress, sharing her horrific story and calling for border security. 

“We live in a constant state of pain and grief,” Tambunga said. “We all know that our mom and Emilia were selfless, caring, and loving, and now we try to carry that on by seeking justice and doing our part to ensure this never happens to another family.”

The grandmother and granddaughter were driving home from a play date with cousins when the crash occurred. Two of the illegal aliens Comer was smuggling were also killed in the car accident. 

Gin Jespersen, Tambunga’s sister, lost her mother and her niece that day and told The Daily Signal that Wednesday marks “one year of suffering, crying, and bewilderment as to why [President Joe] Biden and Mayorkas continue to assault their own American citizens at the behest of an ideology to change the fabric of America.”

“It is through death, crime, and injury to Americans like our mom, Maria, and Emilia, 7, that he meets his goal,” she said, adding: “Sinful. Shameful.”

Wednesday was not only the first anniversary of the death of the grandmother and granddaughter, but also the first day of the trial of a man said to be a human smuggler.

Comer, a U.S. citizen, faces multiple charges, including capital murder. The case is being heard in the Crockett County Courthouse, in Ozona, Texas, about 230 miles west of Austin. 

Tragically, Maria and Emilia Tambunga are not the only Americans to have died as a result of the crisis along the southern border. 

University of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley was killed in February while jogging. The lead suspect in her slaying is an illegal immigrant from Venezuela. 

On March 6, Travis Wolfe, 12, died after being on life support for three months following a car crash with an illegal immigrant. The illegal alien was driving the wrong way at more than 70 mph in Hazelwood, Missouri. 

An illegal alien is charged in the fatal shooting of 2-year-old Jeremy Poou-Caceres in Maryland in February. The little boy and his mom were out for a walk when they were caught up in the crossfire of an illegal alien who was in a car and firing, allegedly at another group of people.

And in October, 46- year-old Francisco Javier Cuellar was found dead in a home in Florida. An illegal alien from Honduras pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Cuellar’s death. 

Since Biden became president in January 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reported encountering more than 8.8 million illegal aliens on America’s borders and at ports of entry.

That total doesn’t include what the agency calls 1.7 million “known gotaways.” CBP also said it has encountered about 1,500 individuals on America’s terrorist watchlist at the border since Biden took office. 

While speaking to the press aboard Air Force One on Monday, Biden was asked when “executive action on the border” was coming. The president responded: “I’m counting on the border action happening by itself, the—passing it,” referring to Congress taking action. 

So far, Congress has been unable to find agreement on border security legislation. The House passed a border security bill, HR 2, last May, but the Senate has not taken up the bill.

The Senate considered a border bill in February, but it failed in the upper chamber with Republicans citing concerns over the bill’s failure to secure the border and instead enshrining open-border policies into law. 


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