A Clear Lake woman thought of by many as a second mother died Sunday of injuries from last week's deadly train crash in Spain.
Myrta Lasalle Fariza, 58, was traveling with her husband Robert in car No. 7 when the train derailed and tumbled in the crash Wednesday. After attending their daughter's wedding in Rome and visiting relatives in Zamora, the couple had just arrived in Santiago de Compostela to join more than 100,000 other Catholic pilgrims at Thursday's feast day for St. James.
The driver was formally charged Sunday for his role in the wreck that claimed 79 lives and injured more than 170 others. Francisco Garzon, 52, is accused of driving the train too fast through a tight curve.
Robert Fariza, who sustained minor injuries, told Spanish newspaper El Pais earlier this week that he saw the car veering off the rails and people rolling on the floor. Among them was his wife, who he said suffered severe wounds to her head.
Myrta Fariza, who was in critical condition following the wreck, died early Sunday at a hospital in Santiago de Compostela surrounded by family who abandoned a honeymoon or booked flights to Europe.
"To all who knew her, Myrta provided irreplaceable love, compassion, courage, friendship and support," the family said in an email statement. "We will miss her dearly."
Son-in-law Brian Buerkett remembers Myrta's constant smiles as she helped him ease into his new, boisterous Puerto Rican family.
"She would just talk to me and always explain to me what people said in Spanish if I didn't understand," he said. "She was so proud of her family and of her girls."
Family extended beyond close relatives and even dozens of cousins, aunts and uncles. Amanda Wiley said Myrta became a second mother to herself and many other friends of her three daughters, Dominique Buerkett, Jisselle Campos and Yalisse Fariza.
"She's the type of person that puts everyone else's needs before their own," she said.
Brian Buerkett said Myrta's ability to always find the good in people extended to her work as a juvenile probation worker for Harris County for more than 20 years and as an instructor for ESCAPE Family Resource Center, a nonprofit working to prevent child abuse and neglect by providing parenting and life skills courses for at-risk families.
Many knew Fariza supported and inspired many, but family was still shocked to see the Facebook page, "Hope for Myrta," garner more than 1,000 likes as friends remembered stories, prayed for healing and collected donations to offset the family's unexpected expenses.
Buerkett said the family is grateful.
"Prayer is the most important thing right now," Buerkett said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.