Trucker charged in the deaths of 10 im­mi­grants

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - FRANK BAJAK AND NO­MAAN MER­CHANT SAN AN­TO­NIO —

The trac­tor-trailer was pitch-black in­side, crammed with maybe 90 im­mi­grants or more, and al­ready hot when it left the Texas bor­der town of Laredo for the 240-km trip north to San An­to­nio.

It wasn’t long be­fore the pas­sen­gers, sweat­ing pro­fusely in the ris­ing oven-like heat, started cry­ing and plead­ing for wa­ter. Chil­dren whim­pered. Peo­ple took turns breath­ing through a sin­gle hole in the wall. They pounded on the sides of the truck and yelled to try to get the driver’s at­ten­tion. Then they be­gan pass­ing out.

By the time the driver stopped at a Wal­mart in San An­to­nio on Satur­day night and opened the door, as many as eight pas­sen­gers were dead, and two more would soon die in an im­mi­grant-smug­gling at­tempt gone trag­i­cally awry.

The de­tails of the jour­ney were re­counted Mon­day by a survivor who spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press and in a fed­eral crim­i­nal com­plaint against the driver, James Matthew Bradley, who could face the death penalty over the 10 lives lost.

“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,” 27-year-old Adan Lal­rave­gas said from his hos­pi­tal bed.

Bradley, 60, of Clear­wa­ter, Florida, ap­peared in fed­eral court on charges of il­le­gally trans­port­ing im­mi­grants for fi­nan­cial gain, re­sult­ing in death. He was or­dered held for another hear­ing on Thurs­day.

He did not en­ter a plea or say any­thing about what hap­pened. But in court pa­pers, he told au­thor­i­ties he didn’t re­al­ize any­one was in­side his truck un­til he parked and got out.

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