Driver Charged After Deaths of 10 Migrants from Sweltering Truck

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A Florida man, accused of driving the tractor trailer where at least 10 undocumented immigrants died Sunday, appeared in court Monday morning where he was charged with illegally transporting immigrants.

Sixty-year-old James Matthew Gradley Jr. was brought into a federal courthouse in San Antonio, Texas.

The truck’s trailer has Iowa license plates and is owned by Pyle Transportation in Sac County. The owner tells the San Antonio Express News that Bradely is an owner-operator for the company. That means Bradly owns the truck but Pyle Transportation owns the trailer that he pulls.

Mike Pyle also says Bradley was not authorized to be hauling anything in Texas this weekend.

Nearly two dozen people were inside the back of the sweltering tractor trailer. Bradley told authorities the undocumented immigrants were placed in the back of the trailer while he detailed the cab of the 18-wheeler and was distracted.  It’s still unclear whether that claim would become part of his defense in court.

More than a dozen other people, whom authorities described as victims of a “horrific” human smuggling operation, suffered life-threatening injuries.

A Walmart security guard in a southwest section of San Antonio made the discovery after a tipster identified a tractor-trailer in the parking lot that was apparently full of migrants.