HOUSTON (FOX 26) - FOX News has confirmed the driver in the San Antonio human smuggling case that left ten dead and dozens more injuried after being transported in a sweltering trailer had not had an active commercial driving license since April of this year.
James Matthew Bradley Jr. was charged in federal court Monday with illegally transporting undocumented aliens for financial gain after dozens were found in the back of his 18-wheeler as it was parked at a San Antonio Walmart on Sunday.
Florida driving records obtained by Fox News show the state had Bradley's commercial driving privileges revoked in April.
The truck was registered to Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, IA. President Brian Pyle said that he had sold the truck to someone in Mexico and that Bradley was supposed to deliver it to a pick-up point in Brownsville.
"I'm absolutely sorry it happened. I really am. It's shocking. I'm sorry my name was on it," Pyle said, referring to the truck. He said he had no idea why Bradley took the roundabout route he described to investigators.
At a Tuesday night vigil for the ten people who died in his incident, and the many others who were hospitalized, residents broke into tears. Many recounted their own tales of immigration and the perils they faced.
One woman recalled responding to a similar case in Victoria, Texas back in 2003. Nineteen lives were lost when immigrants were discovered in an unventilated trailer.
The prayers at FIEL Houston's vigil Tuesday for the victims of the San Antonio human smuggling case were not only for the ten lives lost and the many hospitalized, but for the many others whose fates remain unknown – as court documents suggest as many as 200 people may have been crammed into a sweltering 18-wheeler, discovered by police in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot Sunday night. A suspicious employee had tipped them off after a man asked for water.
"This is a call to action for folks if they see something like this suspicious that they report it," said Cesar Espinosa of FIEL Houston. "At the same time, we are also calling on the community to not risk their lives by coming in that manner to the United States."
Bradley maintains he didn't know what he was hauling in his truck. It's a fact Houston attorney Rogel Sorrel finds hard to believe.
"There's no such thing as a sealed load unless there are certain parameters that are met by certified loading folks and the government has to know about it," explains Sorrel. "This is just unheard."
Sorrel specializes in commercial truck accidents, and says that's not the only suspicious fact. He says any company should have known, before handing over a new load, that a driver was not licensed.
"The first thing they do is get a copy of the license. You need to check the DOT, need to do a background check," Sorrel says.
Sorrel's also suspicious of Bradley's claim that he was tasked with driving from Iowa to Brownsville Texas to give the trailer to a new owner, as that doesn't explain why the truck stopped in Loredo, where several survivors say they were picked up.
Sorrel also says there are checkpoints like immigration stops and weigh stations, which trucks are required to stop at in Texas by law. He says drivers can sometimes avoid them by driving when the stations are closed. Websites offer drivers step-by-step instructions on how to avoid checkpoints.
Bradley makes his next federal court appearance on Thursday.