Death toll in immigrant smuggling case cut to 9 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Death toll in immigrant smuggling case cut to 9

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Photo: NBC Photo: NBC
SAN ANTONIO -

The Latest on several people found dead in the back of a tractor-trailer in a Walmart parking lot in Texas (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has lowered the death toll of people found in the back of a sweltering tractor-trailer outside of a San Antonio Walmart from 10 to nine.

Thomas Homan, the agency's acting director, had told The Associated Press that two people died in a hospital. But agency spokeswoman Liz Johnson says only one person died at a hospital.

Eight dead bodies were found in the truck, bringing the total number of dead to nine.

___

2:45 p.m.

A U.S. official says the death toll from people found in the back of a sweltering tractor-trailer in the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart has risen to 10.

Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Associated Press that two people died in a hospital. Eight dead bodies were found in the truck.

Based on initial interviews with survivors, Homan says there may have been more than 100 people in the truck. Thirty-eight were found inside. The rest are believed to have fled or been picked up.

Homan says some survivors have identified themselves as Mexican nationals. Four of the passengers are believed to be between 10 and 17 years old, and at least one of them is in serious condition.

___

1:10 p.m.

Authorities say 30 people have been taken to the hospital after they were found in the back of a sweltering tractor-trailer with in the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart. Eight others died in what police are calling "a human trafficking crime."

Twenty are said to be in extremely critical or serious condition, many suffering from extreme dehydration and heat stroke. Others had lesser injuries.

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood says the trailer didn't have a working air conditioning system and the victims "were very hot to the touch."

Police Chief William McManus says some of those in the truck ran into the woods, leading to a search. He says many of the truck's occupants appeared to be in their 20s and 30s but that there were also what appeared to be two school-age children.

Officials said the truck driver was arrested. The U.S. Homeland Security Department is taking the lead in the investigation.

___

9:45 a.m.

San Antonio-based U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin Jr. says those responsible for the deaths of eight people inside a sweltering tractor-trailer truck outside a San Antonio Walmart store are "ruthless human smugglers indifferent to the well-being of their fragile cargo."

Durbin says those inside the truck were helpless in the punishing 100-degree-plus (37.78-Celsius) heat and were victims of a "smuggling venture gone horribly wrong."

He says federal investigators will work with San Antonio police to identify those responsible.

After daybreak Sunday, the truck remained at the side and toward the back of the store. The scene is marked off with yellow crime-scene tape and with officers and patrol cars. The trailer of the 18-wheeler truck has an Iowa license plate. Neither it nor the truck's cab appear to have markings.

___

7 a.m.

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood says the many injured survivors taken from the tractor-trailer parked outside a Walmart store were suffering in varying degrees from such injuries as heat stroke and dehydration.

Hood told journalists at the scene that paramedics and firefighters who treated the victims found all had accelerated heartbeats when they were taken from the truck in the stifling heat. The high in San Antonio had reached 101 degrees (38 Celsius) on Saturday.

"They were very hot to the touch. So these people were in this trailer without any signs of any type of water," Hood says.

In video authorities posted online, Hood stood against a backdrop of flashing emergency vehicle lights in the pre-dawn hours as he briefed reporters. He says police and fire officials treated it as a "mass casualty situation" much like an airplane disaster.

In addition to the eight dead, Hood says, there were at least 30 others aboard the truck. Of those survivors, at least 20 people were in extremely critical or serious condition and the others had lesser injuries.

"We are very fortunate that there weren't 38 people who were locked inside of this vehicle dead," he says.

___

5:40 a.m.

The temperature in San Antonio had been in the 90s just before eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer outside a Walmart store.

Authorities say several other people were found alive in the truck, which didn't have a working air conditioning system despite the blistering summer heat. Those people have been hospitalized.

Police say it's a horrific human trafficking case and the driver has been arrested.

Police say a Walmart employee was approached in the parking lot by a person from the truck who was asking for water late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Police say the employee gave the person the water and called for help. They say responding officers found the people in the tractor-trailer.

The National Weather Service says the temperature in San Antonio hit 101 degrees just before 5 p.m. Saturday and didn't dip below 90 degrees until after 10 p.m.

___

5:10 a.m.

The driver of a tractor-trailer in which eight people were found dead in a parking lot outside a Texas Walmart has been arrested.

Authorities haven't released the identity of the driver.

San Antonio police say several other people from the tractor-trailer have been taken to hospitals. They say it's a horrific human trafficking case.

Police say a Walmart employee was approached in the parking lot by a person from the truck who was asking for water late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Police say the employee gave the person the water and then called them and when they arrived they found the eight people dead in the back of the trailer.

Police say the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is involved in the investigation into what happened

___

4:45 a.m.

Eight people have been found dead in a tractor-trailer outside a Walmart in Texas in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case.

Several other people have been taken to hospitals.

San Antonio police say a Walmart employee was approached in a parking lot by a person from the truck who was asking for water late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Police say the employee gave the person the water and then called them and when they arrived they found the eight people dead in the back of the trailer.

Police say they checked surveillance video, which shows vehicles had arrived and picked up other people from the tractor-trailer. They say they're "looking at a human trafficking crime."

Police say the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is involved in the investigation into what happened.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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