July 24 (UPI) — A criminal complaint against the driver of a truck in which nine undocumented immigrants were found dead in San Antonio, Texas, will be filed Monday, prosecutors said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the driver, James Matthew Bradley, Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Fla., was jailed Sunday. The truck was found in a San Antonino Walmart parking lot on Sunday. The refrigerated trailer, whose air-conditioning and ventilation systems were not operating, held eight dead bodies and 30 survivors injured from overheating. A ninth person died while hospitalized, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.
The truck carried the logo of Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, Iowa.
U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin referred to the incident as “an alien-smuggling venture gone horribly wrong.” All survivors aboard the trailer were hospitalized, some in critical condition, and all those who died were men.
Durbin added, “The South Texas heat is punishing this time of year. These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters. Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus degree heat.”
The temperature in San Antonio at 6 p.m. Saturday reached 100 degrees, and the temperature within a closed space such as the trailer could have reached 115 degrees within a half-hour, the National Weather Service said. When the truck arrived in the parking lot early Sunday, one person within left the trailer and asked a Walmart employee for water. The employee notified police, and a fire truck soon arrived to remove people from the trailer.
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said those aboard the trailer showed signs of “a lot of heat stroke, a lot of dehydration. Our paramedics and firefighters found that each patient had heart rates over about 130 beats per minute and were very hot to the touch.”
Over 100 undocumented immigrants may have been enclosed in the trailer in the course of its journey, said Thomas Homan, ICE acting director, citing initial interviews with survivors.
“The loss of these lives is heartbreaking. Human trafficking is an epidemic that Texas is working to eradicate. To that end, Texas will continue to provide protection for the victims who have been robbed of their most basic rights and bring down the full weight of the law for the perpetrators of this despicable crime,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.