Teachers from a Texas elementary school are paying tribute to the three children who once graced their classrooms but had their lives cut tragically short Monday after inhaling a pesticide in a freak accident.
The victims, Felipe Balderas, 7, Johnnie Balderas, 9, and Josue Balderas, 11, were all students at Eastridge Elementary School in Amarillo. Their older sister, Yasmeen Balderas, 17, was a high school senior on the brink of graduation.
One teacher told Inside Edition: “We lost such a huge ray of sunshine in our classroom. They were remarkable people and a remarkable family. Every one of these boys were the most genuine kindest kids."
Josue’s teacher said he “was a delight to be around. He had his mind set that he was going to be a priest and he had to be a good kid."
Felipe’s teacher added he "was very quiet at the beginning of the year, a very hard worker always doing what he was asked to do, a joy to be around. I always told his mom, 'I admire you because you have so many kids and they're all such good kids, how did you do this?'"
Johnnie was said to be the class clown. "[He] never met a stranger — everybody who came in contact with him instantly loved him," his teacher said.
Their mother, Martha, remains in critical condition.
Authorities say their father said he obtained a highly toxic commercial pesticide, aluminum phosphide, from a friend and spread the pellets under his mobile home to get rid of rodents.
When he sprayed the pellets with water to get rid of the odor, it created a cloud of deadly fumes that floated into the family’s home, causing everyone inside to become sick, according to authorities.
Ten people were inside the home when emergency crews arrived. As four perished, the rest remain hospitalized, according to Captain Larry Davis of the Amarillo Fire Department.
“The individual got his hands on it illegally; that is wrong," Andy Linares, the president of Bug Off Pest Control in New York City, told Inside Edition. "He applied it improperly; that is wrong. He accelerated the fumigant but adding water – wrong.”
A teacher from the elementary school, Terry Rodriguez, has set up a GoFundMe page to aid the family. If you would like to donate or seek additional information, click here.