Driver could face death penalty over tractor-trailer tragedy

SAN ANTONIO (NBC) – The truck driver accused of leaving a dozen of undocumented immigrants in the back of a sweltering tractor-trailer in a San Antonio parking lot has been formally charged.

Ten people died after being left in the truck, and more than a dozen others remain hospitalized.

Federal agents say the people found in the 18-wheeler at a Walmart parking lot are victims of human smuggling.

The suspected driver, 60-year-old James Bradley of Clearwater, Florida, made his first court appearance Monday.

According to court documents, Bradley claims he didn’t know anyone was in the truck, telling agents he was surprised when he was “run over by Spanish people and knocked to the ground.”

Instead of calling the police he called his wife, while a Walmart employee called 911.

Eight people were found dead when police arrived, along with dozens more suffering from heat-related illnesses. Two more died after being taken to the hospital.

“They were very hot to the touch, so these people were in that trailer without any signs of any type of water so you’re looking at a lot of heatstroke, a lot of dehydration,” said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood.

In all, 39 people were inside the truck. The truck’s airtight doors, turned the trailer into an oven, as outside temperatures in San Antonio exceeded 100 degrees.

Bradley could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.

Read more here.

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