Eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Wal-Mart store in Texas’ stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case. The driver was arrested.
Twenty other people in extremely critical or serious condition and eight more with lesser injuries including heat stroke and dehydration were found inside the truck, which didn’t have a working air conditioning system despite blistering temperatures that topped 100 degrees, authorities said. All were taken to several hospitals.
“They were very hot to the touch. So these people were in this trailer without any signs of any type of water,” said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, briefing journalists at the scene in video authorities posted on social media. “It was a mass casualty situation for us.”
A person from the truck initially approached a Wal-Mart employee in a parking lot and asked for water late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, said police in San Antonio, where temperatures on Saturday reached 101 degrees. The employee gave the person the water and then called police, and when officers arrived they found the eight people dead in the back of the trailer and 30 survivors inside, police Chief William McManus said.
The driver had been held, McManus said, but he didn’t release the driver’s identity.
Investigators checked store surveillance video, which showed vehicles had arrived and picked up other people from the tractor-trailer, police said.