At least ten people are dead and more than 30 have suffered major injuries in a tractor-trailer estimated to have been carrying up to 100 undocumented immigrants in Texas. The bodies were discovered on early Sunday morning at the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart.
CNN reports that an employee called law enforcement officers after a man from the truck requested water on a day that reached 100-degrees. According to officials, the truck’s air conditioning did not work.
“Unfortunately, some of them were severely overheated, and that was a refrigerated truck with no refrigeration,” said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood. “So the inside of the truck was just austere condition that nobody was going to survive in it. So we were very fortunate that they were found.”
“With heat strokes or heat injuries, a lot of them are going to have some irreversible brain damage,” he said.
Eight people were found dead inside the truck; two more died in the hospital after sustaining critical injuries.
“Checking the video from the store, we found there were a number of vehicles that came in and picked up a lot of the folks that were in that trailer that survived the trip,” San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told CNN. “We are looking at a human trafficking crime here.”
The US Attorney’s Office plans to file a criminal complaint against the driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr. on Monday. He will face state and federal charges.
After the victims have been treated for injuries—two of whom were just 15 years old—they will be turned over the Immigration and Customs Officials.
Some leaders are pointing out the tragic incident is, at least partially, a result of anti-immigrant policies (While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the incident a “heartbreaking tragedy,” in May he signed a bill banning sanctuary cities). “You can draw a direct line between the hostile policies and rhetoric against immigrants that are happening nationally, and here in our state, to events like what happened today,” Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services Jonathan Ryan executive director told NBC.
Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who represents San Antonio, called the incident “horrific” and called to “prosecute smugglers” and “reform our broken immigration system.”