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Dead Found in Truck Hauling Mexicans

Crime: Authorities say a rig with dozens of people inside drove to North Texas from Santa Fe, N.M., about 12 hours, in the heat.

July 28, 2002|From Associated Press

ANNA, Texas — A tractor-trailer believed to be hauling dozens of Mexican nationals for several hours in 90-degree heat was found at a truck stop here Saturday, and police confirmed an unspecified number of fatalities.

Witnesses said one man stumbled from the trailer and was hospitalized. Rescue workers said at least two more people were in the truck parked in this small town about 40 miles north of Dallas.

It was unclear what had happened to the driver.

Authorities believed it was the same rig that stopped at a Dallas truck stop earlier, where witnesses said about 40 people poured out, some fleeing into neighborhoods seeking help.

Authorities said the truck had traveled to Dallas from Santa Fe, N.M., about a 12-hour drive. Some ran to homes asking for water, and the truck left the scene before police arrived.

At least 14 people were hospitalized for heat exhaustion and possible heat stroke. Authorities said at least five were in critical condition. It was about 96 degrees Saturday afternoon in the Dallas area.

Dallas police Sgt. Steve Winters said about 20 people were taken into custody; others got away and were being sought.

"It was a heartbreaking thing to see people suffering like that," said Willie Warren, an employee at the Dallas truck stop. "They were gagging for breath. Some of them couldn't even walk."

Neighbors said they tried to help several people.

"They said it was 12 hours from the last time they actually saw the daylight," saidAlberto Castillo. "You know, 12 hours at this time of day is hard."

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