By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
It’s been 30 years since the de la Lastra brothers went to sea and never returned. But, for their mother, their family and their friends, memories of their jovial attitudes and happy natures remain fresh.
Jose Eduardo and Gustavo de la Lastra were career shrimpers, from a family of career shrimpers. They were introduced to the trade by their father, Gonzalo de la Lastra, who himself plied the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for almost 45 years. But, three decades ago, an industrial accident claimed the lives of the two brothers while at sea.
The chemical preservative, known in the trade as “shrimp dip” the brothers used to preserve their catch, the Wilderness, did more than prevent unsightly black spots on the shrimp, it also released toxic sulfur dioxide gas. Deep in the holds of their shrimp trawler, the gas had nowhere to escape. The two brothers, whom family describe as inseparable, asphyxiated.
It was a tragedy that devastated the de la Lastra family. Patriarch Gonzalo never went fishing again, his daughter Veronica de la Lastra said. “A consequencia de este acidente de mis hermanos, pos mi papa era capitan de barco. … Y pues, ya mi papa no quiso, y ya, se acabo alli,” she said Saturday.
“As a result of my brothers’ accident, well, my dad was a boat captain. And afterwards, my dad didn’t want to (fish), and that was it, it ended there,” de la Lastra said of her father.
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