SAN ANTONIO – More than 40 migrants were found dead Monday in the trailer of a large truck in San Antonio, authorities said.
San Antonio fire chief Charles Hood said at least 46 people had been killed and 16, including four children, had been hospitalized.
The victims were men and women, many of them young adults, officials said.
Three people have been taken into custody, San Antonio Police Chief William P. McManus said.
The grim discovery was made early Monday night in an unexplored area in southwest San Antonio near the railroad. Someone working in the area reported a cry for help and saw at least one body, officials said.
“We’re not supposed to open a truck and see piles of corpses in there,” Hood said.
McManus said the survivors had no water and air conditioning. “The patients we saw were warm to the touch,” he said.
McManus said Homeland Security Investigations has taken over the investigation. The heat will likely be a focus — temperatures climbed to 101 Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
The heat in a trailer full of people was probably significantly higher than the outside temperature.
A committee of the National Association of Medical Examiners recommended that: bodies with temperatures of 105 or higher at the time of collapse are certified as heat-related deaths.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the 46 dead “had families who were probably trying to find a better life.”
“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy,” Nirenberg said.
In 2017, 10 migrants died in a packed truck carrying 39 people in San Antonio in the heat of summer.
Driver James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and transporting migrants, though his wife said he was not aware there were people in the trailer.
Gemma DiCasimirro† Anthony Cusumano and The Associated Press contributed†