The father of a 16-year-old boy who was smuggled from Mexico into Texas in an unventilated tractor-trailer told the harrowing story of his son Brandon’s survival.
In a recent interview with Texas Public Radio, Jose de Jesus Martinez, a Colorado landscaper who is also an undocumented immigrant, described how his 16-year-old son Brandon survived a trip with 40 other immigrants.
Ten of his fellow travelers were not so fortunate, perishing during the suffocating journey.
According to his dad, Brandon was traveling from the family’s home is Aguascalientes, Mexico, to see him.
However, federal immigration officials who interviewed the survivors found the truck carried at least 40 people seeking a better life in the U.S.
The survivors said the trailer was with no ventilation or air conditioning system, so many of their fellow travelers passed out from the heat and lack of oxygen.
The travelers reportedly pounded on the walls of the trailer to get the driver’s attention, who eventually stopped in the parking lot of a San Antonio-area Wal-Mart store.
He claimed he heard the noises for the first time when he stopped at the store to relieve himself, telling authorities he didn’t know about the human cargo, nor was he aware of the unlivable conditions.
When the bodies were discovered, immigrants escaped the truck and a store employee called 911.
Those who were still healthy enough to run fled the scene, while Brandon and the others waited for medical attention.
According to reports, as Brandon lay in an intensive care unit at San Antonio’s North Central Baptist Hospital, federal agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement attempted to enter the room, where the elder Martinez was also sitting at his son’s bedside.
The reports stated Martinez’s attorney, Alex Galvez and hospital staffers formed a wall to protect father and son from the agents.
While the Martinez immigration case is still under investigation, the driver of the truck, 60-year-old James M. Bradley Jr, of Clearwater, Florida., was indicted on five counts, including transporting undocumented aliens resulting in death.