The death toll in the horrific human smuggling case has risen to 10 as another victim has died in the hospital after being packed into a sweltering trailer with as many as 100 people at one time. More details have emerged today regarding the trailer discovered in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot that harbored a nightmare with dead bodies and people in critical condition from the heat. You will not believe what the driver did when he claims he first discovered his payload consisted of people and some of them had expired. The 60-year-old driver had his first court appearance today.
The event started on Sunday morning when a disoriented and very thirsty man walked into Walmart and asked an employee for water. That employee gave the man water and called the police once he saw the man head into the back of a tractor trailer truck. The Walmart caller requested that a “well-being check” be done on the man, who looked ill when he entered the store, according to CNN News.
Police arrived and immediately called in a “mass casualty” event, with 29 units dispatched for transporting the victims to the hospital. There were about 40 people when they arrived, but about 100 people were crammed into the back of that truck when it first pulled into Walmart. The dead and critically ill people remained behind as the others well enough to get away, did so before police arrived. It was said in initial reports that the doors were locked, but opened by the time the police arrived.
That has been cleared up today when the timeline was made clear. It was the driver who opened up the doors of the trailer once he pulled into Walmart. He said in court today that he had no idea what he was carrying in the truck’s trailer until he pulled into that Walmart parking lot. This is when he heard banging from inside and opened the doors of the trailer. He was hit with a stampede of people, rushing to get out of the sweltering box. His statement can be seen further below in the article. You will not believe what he did next.
Truck Driver Charged With Human Smuggling After 10 Die In Stifling Conditions https://t.co/nZE5U879Id
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Police have seen the recorded videos from the Walmart parking lot’s surveillance cameras, and it shows that many of the illegal immigrants walked away from that trailer. Some got into other vehicles and then whisked away out of sight of the cameras. The ones that were healthy enough to get on their feet, did so and fled the area in fear of being discovered by police.
In all, it is estimated from what the cameras show and from what the surviving victims report, that the truck carried about 100 people who are believed to be illegal immigrants from Mexico and other South American countries. This incident speaks to the need for tightening at the borders.
The driver was charged in court this morning, which is the latest news coming from this case today. If he is found guilty of the charges he could get life in prison or the death penalty, according to NBC News. The suspect has been identified as James Matthew Bradley, 60, of Clearwater, Florida. He was in court just hours after the news broke of another death in this horrific crime, bringing the death toll to 10.
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Many of the victims who remain in the hospital are suffering from “life threatening conditions” according to authorities, so the death toll may indeed rise even more. Some have suffered irreversible brain damage from the prolonged exposure to the high temperatures in the back of that truck. When police first approached the truck, there were eight dead bodies inside. Another victim died shortly after being transported to the hospital. This morning’s death brings the death toll to 10 altogether in one of the worst mass casualties seen in a human smuggling event in recent years.
Another victim died shortly after being transported to the hospital. This morning’s death brings the toll to 10 dead altogether in one of the worst mass casualties seen in a human smuggling event in recent years.
Bradley claims he was driving the trailer from Schaller, Iowa, to Brownsville, Texas, for his boss, who had sold the trailer to someone in Texas. He was just delivering the trailer, and he had no idea what was inside, was the statements he made to police. He had no idea he had live cargo on board, let alone human cargo until he heard movement coming from inside the trailer when he stopped to take a bathroom break. This is why he initially pulled over in the Walmart parking lot, according to the court documents, NBC reports.
Bradley stated to police that “when he arrived at the Walmart he exited the vehicle to urinate and he heard banging and shaking in the trailer,” according to the complaint. “Bradley said he went to open the doors and was surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground. Bradley said he then noticed bodies just lying on the floor like meat.”
He was aware that the refrigeration units were not working in the truck, he said as part of his complaint. He didn’t call 911. Instead, he called his wife, according to NBC News. There was no other information given as to why this truck driver didn’t call the police.
— Dan Frosch (@djfroschWSJ) July 24, 2017
The truck was thought to belong to Pyle Transportation, which is what is advertised on the side of the trailer. Brian Pyle, who is the owner of the company said that he sold that truck back in May when he was contacted by NBC News. He said,
“I had nothing to do with anything that guy did,” Pyle said. “I had no connection, had no idea what he was doing. I feel bad for what happened down there. I’m sorry for everything that happened. I found out about it on the news like everyone else.”
Bradley, who has requested a court-appointed lawyer, will be back in court on Thursday.
[Featured Image by Jurasy/Shutterstock]