A 10th person has died after being trapped in a sweltering tractor trailer in San Antonio, authorities said Monday, as the accused driver awaited his first court appearance.
The name of the latest victim of the immigrant-smuggling operation gone wrong was not immediately available.
Officials said 39 were rescued from the truck in a Walmart parking lot early Sunday, where temperatures had exceeded 100 degrees.
They expressed concern that the death toll could rise because nearly 20 of the immigrants — some of whom were from Guatemala and Mexico — were suffering from severe dehydration and heatstroke.
9 immigrants dead in tractor-trailer in botched human trafficking
Some of the victims were so overheated they will likely have permanent brain damage, authorities said.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors said they planned to bring charges against James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Fla.
They would not immediately confirm he was the driver of the 18-wheeler, though local authorities had said over the weekend the driver was in custody.
Authorities would not say whether the truck was locked when they found it, but the air conditioning was not working.
Texas cops find 9 dead in trailer left in Walmart parking lot
A man who had managed to escape the truck asked a Walmart employee for water, leading authorities to the grim discovery.
Survivors told ICE investigators that the truck had at one point been packed with more than 100 people, ICE acting Director Thomas Homan said.
Four of the survivors appeared to be between 10 and 17 years old, Homan said. Many others were in their 20s and 30s, officials said.
It was unclear where the truck began its journey, or where it was headed. The truck had Iowa plates and was registered to Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, Iowa. Calls to the company were not returned.
Homan doubted the truck carried the immigrants across the border into the United States.
People from Latin America who rely on smuggling networks typically cross the border on foot and are then picked up by a driver, he said.
“Even though they have the driver in custody, I can guarantee you there’s going to be many more people we’re looking for to prosecute,” Homan said.
With News Wire Services
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