No Air, No Water: Surviving Immigrant Recalls Tractor-Trailer Horror That Killed 10
Adan Lara Vega said screaming children begged for water but received none.
A survivor of the human trafficking horror discovered in a Texas Walmart parking lot that left 10 dead this week says he could hear people crying and begging for water in the packed truck.
From a hospital bed this week, 27-year-old Adan Lara Vega told reporters he and upwards of 100 other men, women and children climbed inside the back of the truck in the border town of Laredo before setting off on a 150-mile trip to San Antonio.
It wasn't long before the heat, lack of air and dehydration took hold as whimpering children pleaded for water and adults took turns breathing through a hole in the truck wall, Vega told reporters.
"After an hour I heard ... people crying and asking for water. I, too, was sweating and people were despairing. That's when I lost consciousness," Vega told The Associated Press.
That's when people began passing out, Vega said.
When the truck arrived to a Walmart in San Antonio early Sunday, eight people were dead.
That number has since grown, as has investigators' suspicion into what role — if any — the driver of the truck played in what appears to be an immigrant smuggling operation gone terribly wrong.
A federal criminal complaint against that driver, James Matthew Bradley, says the 60-year-old Floridian denied knowing human beings were in the back of his truck until he stopped to relieve himself.
According to the Chicago Tribune, authorities say Bradley told them the trailer had been sold and he was transporting it for his boss from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas.
After hearing banging, he told investigators he opened the door and was "surprised when he was run over by 'Spanish' people and knocked to the ground."
The criminal complaint says Bradley admitted he did not call 911 even after he knew at least one person in the truck was dead.
It was a Walmart employee who reportedly called the police after a man, who was reportedly in the truck, approached the employee in the parking lot of the store and asked him for water, according to San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
Authorities then found eight bodies in the truck, which had no air conditioning, and 30 other people — 20 of whom were in serious or critical condition.
Others were suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration, police said. The injured were taken to several area hospitals, according to reports.
The death count has since risen to 10.
A haunting makeshift memorial for those victims in the form of a few unopened bottles of water now sits next to a tree outside the Walmart.
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