Speed Reads

This is terrible

Immigrants transported in hot truck were crying for help, begging for water

Nearly a dozen immigrants being smuggled into the United States died Sunday after being transported from Laredo, Texas, to San Antonio in a tractor-trailer without any air conditioning, and survivors are recounting the extreme heat and cries for help that went unanswered by the driver.

Adan Lalravega, 27, told The Associated Press the trailer was crowded with people, and as the trip dragged on, the temperature kept getting higher and higher. Adults and children were crying and begging for water, and Lalravega said he lost consciousness before arriving in San Antonio. Other survivors told authorities there was one hole in the wall of the trailer, and people were taking turns breathing out of it. They also pounded on the sides of the trailer, yelling at the driver to stop, but he didn't.

Relief came when the driver, James Matthew Bradley, stopped the truck at a Walmart in San Antonio at around midnight. Bradley told authorities he was driving the truck from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas, on behalf of his boss, who had sold it. Bradley said he heard banging and shaking in the trailer, court records show, but he had no idea there was anyone back there, and was surprised when people came jumping out. He also said he knew the refrigeration system wasn't working, and ventilation holes were likely clogged. Bradley, who appeared in federal court Monday on charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain resulting in death, could face the death penalty.

At least 20 passengers have been hospitalized for heatstroke and extreme dehydration. Most are from Mexico and Guatemala, and one said he traveled to the U.S. by raft, then was driven to Laredo, where he was put in the trailer. He was supposed to pay $5,500 to smugglers when he arrived in San Antonio.