SAN ANTONIO — A first-hand account from first responders revealed graphic and chilling details of what they encountered at the scene of one of the deadliest human smuggling cases in U.S. history.
“We’ve got an 18-wheeler ... looks to be about 60 people that are inside,” an unidentified first responder said in radio communications archived by Broadcastify.com.
“Looks like, uh, quite a few of them are already deceased,” the official said.
San Antonio fire officials said 51 migrants were found dead just before 6 p.m. Monday in a non-working, refrigerated semi-truck. Amid the dead bodies were some still clinging to life.
“None of them are able to talk as of yet but we do have a lot of snoring respirations,” another first responder said on his emergency radio.
The term is used by emergency medical technicians to describe agonal or labored breathing that often sounds like snoring. It is a sign of the human body dying.
Radio communications also included urgent calls for more resources and more equipment at the scene.
“I need manpower at the trailer,” the unidentified on-scene commander said.
“Bring any man sacks or backboards you have on board and make it to the 18-wheeler and assist with patient extrication,” the commander said.
Officials said most of the people inside the truck were too weak to make it out on their own and their bodies were hot to the touch.
“We’re trying to attempt to take the ones that are breathing off of the truck right now,” one first responder told command staff.
Others somehow managed to get off the truck and were found nearby. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said all the migrants were likely trying to find a better life.
“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy,” Nirenberg said.