Mexican official who assisted in deadly human smuggling case reflects on incident 1 year later

10 people died, 29 survived

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist, Bill Barajas - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A year has passed since several people were found dead in the back of a tractor-trailer in a Walmart parking lot.

While the story is long removed from the headlines, those connected to the case said they are haunted by that day.  

Eight people, including children, were found dead in the back of a sweltering trailer. Thirty people were taken to area hospitals for treatment and more later died, bringing the final death toll to 10.

Reyna Torres Mendivil, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Antonio, recalled talking with some of the survivors and arranging care for them.

"It was a very tragic incident," Mendivil said. "Unfortunately, many foreign  nationals lost their lives in this horrible case.​"

Mendivil​​ recounted the story of one man who was found dead in the trailer.

"One of the cases was a young man traveling to take care of his dad who was going through surgery in a different state, not here in Texas, so that's why he initiated traveling this journey here to the U.S in this fashion, because his dad was going to get some back surgery and there was no one to take care of him," Mendivil said.

Nine of the 10 who died hailed from Mexico. Those who survived were given legal advice, medical care and counseling.

"It is a tragedy and no human should go through this situation," Mendivil said.

Half of the nearly 29 individuals who survived have returned home and those who were eligible to stay in  the United States are still here.

"In different parts of the U.S. unified with relatives and also going through different legal procedures," Mendivil said.

Since then, two other smuggling notable smuggling incidents have occurred but did not result in deaths.

Mendivil said migrants seeking the American dream should not put their lives in danger, and added that there needs to be a viable path to citizenship.

"I think there's a need for us to have a very serious, in a constructive manner address this things and to find solutions," she said.

James Bradley Jr., the driver in the deadly smuggling incident, was sentenced to life in prison in April.

Bradley’s co-defendant, 47-year-old Pedro Silva Segura, pleaded guilty on March 8 to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death.

Four exhibits provided to the court by the government during Bradley's sentencing hearing in San Antonio were released to the public by the U.S. attorney's office. 

There were two video files and two photographs. One video was taken by an officer's body camera and shows the immigrants Bradley was smuggling inside his trailer. Many were too ill to move and some were dead.

Copyright 2018 by KSAT - All rights reserved.