The family doesn't have much – they make about $ 400 a month for each other – but say they managed to put the money together to pay for their daughter Pham Thi Tra My to travel to the UK, where they hoped that she will have a chance for a better life.
She sent messages to her parents late Tuesday night in the UK when the trailer was in transit to the English port of Perfleet, according to seafaring charts seen by CNN.
"Sorry for Dad and Mom. The road I took abroad was not successful," wrote the 26-year-old. "Mom, I love your daddy so much. I'm dying because I can't breathe. Nngen, Kang Locke, Ha Tin, Vietnam. Mom, I'm so sorry, Mom."
It has not yet been confirmed that Pham Thi Tra My is one of the victims of the truck, but her family has said they are afraid of the worst. The UK authorities are working with their Vietnamese counterparts to identify the victims, but have not yet formally identified any of them or confirmed their nationality.
Speaking to CNN at his family's home in Vietnam, Pam Van Ting was still heartbroken, saying it was "very painful" to receive the text. He said his daughter must have known he would die when he was sent.
"I lost both my beloved and my money," Pham said, adding that the smugglers who paid did not tell the family how they would transport Tra My to the UK. She travels the country via China and France, but eventually falls out of contact with her family, after which Pham reports her missing.
By then it was too late, Pham Thi Tra My and the other 38 people aboard the truck were trapped and lacked oxygen.