HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — After 20 years of silence, four fishermen who helped the survivors of the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway collapse, are sharing their experience on a podcast hosted by a McAllen resident.
Many remember the Queen Isabela Causeway collapse, that took place on September 15, 2001, as a part of Rio Grande Valley history, but few can remember it as a part of their lives.
Eight people fell to their death that morning when a support piling was hit by a barge, causing the arching portion of the causeway to collapse.
The causeway was renamed the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway in honor of those lost.
The remaining victims were rescued by four fishermen who are now sharing their stories on a platform provided by podcaster, Joshua Moroles. The three victims that survived the collapse have not yet agreed to be on the podcast.
While the event made headlines in the Rio Grande Valley, stories from the people involved were never heard.
Moroles explained that a gag order prevented the fishermen from telling their stories for 20 years.
“Robert has been itching to tell this story for the past 20 years,” said Moroles. “It’s kind of like a therapy session for them, talking with me because they’re getting all this stuff out.”
Robert Espericueta is one of the four fishermen who helped rescue the survivor. He approached Moroles about his story because he knew of Moroles’ podcast platform.
Moroles said he originally did not intend on sharing the story because he was stepping away from podcasting altogether, but after hearing what Espericueta had to say, he changed his mind.
“He reached out to me and he said, ‘just give me an hour of your time, I really want to share this story with people.’ So, I went in, had a meeting with him. An hour and a half later, I walked out of there with one of the most compelling stories that I had ever heard.”
Moroles has put out nine episodes so far, most of them stretching over an hour-long, but he said the story has all the elements of a Hollywood movie.
“I think we’re on the cusp of telling the story of the year,” said Moroles. “A story of this magnitude deserves to be told in as much detail as possible.”
He explained that the podcast platform has allowed for the story to be told without any constraints and believes these stories are giving the history of what happened that day a new perspective that no one has ever heard.
“We’re interested in the people’s stories. We want to hear [from] people that were in the water, their stories because that’s what gives this event real depth,” said Moroles.
He says the podcast has reached 500,000 people so far and hopes people from the Rio Grande Valley will appreciate what they have been able to put out.
“If you get to the end of the story, it’ll tie in everything that the Valley is about: faith, love, moms, a mother’s love, the island. I mean, it’s us.”
The full episodes of the podcast can be streamed on YouTube. Click here for the playlist.