San Antonio police officers investigate the scene on July 23 after the immigrants were found.
Eric Gay/AP
San Antonio police officers investigate the scene on July 23 after the immigrants were found.

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James Matthew Bradley Jr. faces up to life in prison

10 people died, and dozens more were severely injured

CNN —  

The driver of a tractor-trailer found in Texas last summer packed with dozens of undocumented immigrants, 10 of whom died, was sentenced Friday to life without parole in a federal prison.

James Matthew Bradley Jr., 61, pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death.

By pleading guilty, Bradley admitted that “he conspired to transport and did transport undocumented aliens in the United States for financial gain … doing so with reckless disregard that they entered this country illegally,” which resulted in 10 deaths, the Justice Department said.

James Matthew Bradley Jr.
James Matthew Bradley Jr.

Bradley’s co-defendant, Pedro Silva Segura, a 47-year-old undocumented immigrant living in Laredo, Texas, pleaded guilty in March to one count of transporting undocumented aliens resulting in death.

On the morning of July 23, authorities found the tractor-trailer parked at a Walmart in San Antonio after a store employee called police for a welfare check. The employee became concerned after a man from the trailer asked for water, the police chief said.

When police came to investigate, an officer found “multiple people standing and laying at and around the rear of the trailer,” according to a federal criminal complaint against Bradley.

Officials found eight bodies inside the tractor-trailer and 31 people suffering from various injuries. Two more died after being hospitalized.

The air conditioner in the trailer was not working, officials said. The high temperature in San Antonio the previous day was 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

00:47 - Source: CNN
Fire chief: Truck had austere conditions

“We quickly called a ‘mass casualty incident’ and had about 29 units arrive out there and start transporting people,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said. “With heat strokes or heat injuries, a lot of them are going to have some irreversible brain damage.”

“Unfortunately, some of them were severely overheated, and that was a refrigerated truck with no refrigeration,” Hood said. “So we were very fortunate that they were found.”

Bradley originally said he was not aware of the cargo in his vehicle and only discovered it when he parked at the Walmart and went outside to urinate. A federal grand jury in Texas indicted him in August.

Bradley remains in custody and will be sentenced on January 22, 2018.

CNN’s Ralph Ellis, Ed Lavandera, Holly Yan, Jason Morris, Dakin Andone, Devon Sayers, Samira Said, Spencer Feingold, Darran Simon, Jamiel Lynch, David Shortell, Catherine Shoichet, Faith Karimi, Joe Sutton, Sheena Jones, Kevin Bohn, Steve Almasy and Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.