Family says Texas to blame for state failures ultimately resulting in grandmother's death

The family of 71-year-old grandmother Diana Martinez Rangel, who died during the deadly February winter storms, says Texas failed their family and the people of the state. 

Nearly one month later, the Travis County Medical Examiner's office is still working through 86 cases they received the week of February 14, 2021. 


Diana Martinez Rangel's family says they believe deaths could have been prevented.

"Her last words to me were, she was scared, she don't [sic] want to die and I told her we're on our way we're going to take you right now to dialysis and then on the way there I get the call," Miguel Rangel says as he recounts the last conversation he had with his mother. 

Martinez-Rangel had just celebrated her 71st birthday on February 18th. One day later, her children, Miguel and Gilrena Rangel, were left to cancel their mother's birthday plans and instead plan a funeral.

"Why wasn't Texas prepared for this? We had plenty of years to prepare for this and to think about helping the elderly and the disabled people and the sick people help the vulnerable people and why couldn't we protect them," Miguel says, fighting back anger and tears.



Martinez-Rangel's family says communication before the storm was already challenging for them because Martinez-Rangel was part of the deaf community.

"It was really hard for us to communicate with her via video phone, video chat so she would call, if she needed to call, then call a relay service and then have the interpreter then call us via voice chat," Gilrena explains. 

But the days-long power outages compounded the problem.

"They just left the most vulnerable out there to fend for themselves and like I said, I've seen posts of other people in the same situation saying how lucky they are, how blessed they are to have survived this my mom didn't survive," Gilrena says. 

Martinez-Rangel died Friday morning, February 19, the first day Austin got above freezing after the longest stretch of freezing weather on record.

"[The interpreter], she basically was chatting with my mom, with Miguel here and [she] saw my mom slumped over and go to sleep. How come she didn't like, make sure she was ok? Like I said, there's all these little big things that happened, that could've been life-saving," Gilrena says.



Martinez-Rangel's family says they believe she died during a phone call with Miguel. Miguel was on the way to pick up Martinez-Rangel and take her to dialysis after she missed a week's worth of appointments.

"There are times that we called the dialysis and it would just go straight to voicemail the voicemails were full," Miguel says.

Between no power to charge phones, spotty cell phone service, missed dialysis appointments, ice on the roads, a state crippled in darkness and no running water, family says Texas has blood on their hands. 

"Texas needs to protect those people and I wish they were there to protect my mother, unfortunately they're just putting the blaming game on everything. We need to know who's responsible. I want to know who's responsible? Why did they go this far? Why didn’t they prepare us all for this? I lost my mother and I'm never going to see her again," Miguel says in between tears.

"There was no reason for her to die, everything could've been prevented. We should prepare and plan for things you know for these events," Gilrena says.

Now family is left in the dark, with only memories of a woman they say would light up a room. 

If you’re interested in helping the family with funeral expenses, a GoFundMe has been set up to help.