San Antonio trailer deaths: What we know

The driver of a stifling tractor-trailer packed with immigrants outside a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, over the weekend had his commercial driving privileges revoked in April, according to Florida driving records obtained by Fox News.

Eight people died in the packed truck, with two others dying at the hospital. And the driver in the alleged human smuggling case, 60-year-old James Matthew Bradley, Jr., was charged with transporting illegal aliens.

Here’s what we know so far about the incident and how it unfolded.

What happened?

Someone from the truck approached a Walmart employee and asked for water late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said. The employee gave the person water and then called police.

San Antonio police officers responded to the Walmart “shortly after midnight” Sunday, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) release.

A police officer saw “a number of people standing and lying in the rear of the trailer, and the driver, Bradley, in the cab,” it said. Bradley said he didn't know the trailer had people inside, that he “discovered them only when he exited the vehicle to relieve himself” and he tried to administer aid, according to the release. He also claimed to have been taking the trailer from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas. 

San Antonio police said that they "found eight deceased persons and 30-40 others, all undocumented aliens," it said.

The temperature in the Texas city hit 101 degrees on Saturday and didn’t go below 90 degrees until after 10 p.m. The truck didn’t have working air conditioning, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

What do we know about the people in the truck?

Eight bodies were found by authorities inside the 18-wheeler, while another two people died at the hospital. The ten dead victims are adult men, San Antonio Patch reported.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents spoke to some of the people who had been in the trailer, who "described how they had been smuggled across the Rio Grande River near Laredo at different times and as part of different groups," the DOJ release said, adding that the groups were gathered in the trailer Sunday.

“To maximize their criminal profits, these human smugglers crammed more than 100 people into a tractor trailer in the stifling Texas summer heat resulting in 10 dead and 29 others hospitalized,” Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said in a statement.

Officials said 39 people were inside when rescuers arrived, and the rest were believed to have escaped or hitched rides to their next destination.

Mexico's foreign ministry said in a statement that, according to preliminary information, of the people inside the rig, 25 of them were Mexican. Of the 25, four were among those who died and the rest were hospitalized.

Agents have interviewed just five of the dozens of people on board the trailer. Twenty-two people remain hospitalized.

A spokesman for Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry has said that one of the victims who died was 20-year-old Frank Guisseppe Fuentes Gonzales. Two other Guatemalans, ages 17 and 23, survived and were said to be in stable condition.

Survivor Adan Lara Vega, 27, said he lost consciousness while sweating profusely without water inside the pitch-black compartment without any ventilation -- and awoke in a San Antonio hospital bed.

Lara Vega told The Associated Press on Monday that people cried and pleaded for water and that he heard children's voices whimper. He said smugglers who hid him and six friends in a safe house in Laredo, Texas, claimed they'd be riding in an air-conditioned space.

The trip from Laredo to San Antonio is about two hours. Lara Vega said he and his friends got in the trailer between 10 and 11 p.m. He also said that he never saw the truck driver and was never offered water. He said they were being charged $5,500 for the trip and the money was never collected.


What about the driver?

Bradley, Jr., of Clearwater, Fla., has been charged with one count of transporting illegal aliens, according to the DOJ, which said a "federal alien smuggling charge" was filed against Bradley.

Bradley was questioned by authorities and claimed to have been “traveling from Laredo to San Antonio, after having the tractor-trailer washed and detailed at a truck stop near Laredo,” according to the DOJ release.

Bradley said he was taking the truck to its new owner in Brownsville, Texas, the criminal complaint said.

Bradley claimed he heard “banging and shaking in the trailer” when he got out of the cab at the Walmart, and he told investigators “he went to open the doors and was surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground,” the complaint added.

Bradley said he saw bodies on the floor and that he knew at least one person was dead, according to the complaint. Bradley said he contacted his wife, who didn’t pick up, but that he didn’t contact 911, the document said.

Bradley called his fiancee, Darnisha Rose, from jail on Sunday. Bradley often referred to Rose as his wife, though they are not married.


"He said he saw the people in there, laying everywhere," Rose told the AP. "He said he didn't know what to do, which way to go. He was crying, distraught. He was scared. You could tell it in his voice."

Rose defended Bradley as a good man who would always try to help people in need, though she acknowledged he has a criminal history. Documents show his record dates back until at least the 1990s and spans multiple states, the AP reported.

Court records also show that Bradley had been cited repeatedly for violating federal motor carrier safety regulations in Iowa dating back to 1995, according to the AP. At least two of the tickets were for logging more hours than allowed.

Shane Folden, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations office in San Antonio, told The Associated Press Tuesday that agents want to "dismantle the complete organization" behind the smuggling operation.

Folden says that could include money transfers, stash houses for immigrants smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border, and other people involved in planning the operation. Folden declined to say whether Bradley was cooperating with authorities.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.