In what authorities are calling a human trafficking case, police found eight people dead and 30 others injured inside of the back of a tractor-trailer early Sunday after being tipped off by a Texas Walmart employee.
A man, who was reportedly in the truck, approached the employee in the parking lot of the San Antonio store and asked him for water, according to San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
Police said the employee gave him water and called authorities to conduct a welfare check.
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.
Many of the people inside of the truck were in their 20s and 30s, according to authorities, but there were also two school-aged children.
The temperature high in San Antonio on Saturday was 100 degrees.
“They were very hot to the touch. So these people were in this trailer without any signs of any type of water,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said at the scene. “It was a mass casualty situation for us. With heat strokes or heat injuries, a lot of them are going to have some irreversible brain damage.”
There was also reportedly a fridge in the back of the trailer but it was not working.
Police said it is not yet clear how long the tractor-trailer was in the parking lot, but that surveillance footage shows vehicles arriving and picking up others who were in the truck.
Unfortunately police noted that this isn’t an isolated case, but stated human trafficking happens regularly.
"Fortunately, we came across this one and fortunately there are people who survived but this happens all the time," McManus said. "You can see that it happens late at night under darkness because they don't want to be discovered."
The driver of the tractor-trailer, who has not been identified, was arrested. He will face state and federal charges.