Two dead, 14 hospitalized in truck carrying illegal immigrants into Texas

Sunday, July 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ Two illegal Mexican immigrants died in a tractor-trailer rig smuggling aliens across the border and their two truck drivers were charged with murder, officials said Sunday.

Troy Dock and Jason Sprague were being held in jail on $1 million bond each.

More than 40 immigrants are believed to have been riding in the truck Saturday but only 27 have been accounted for, said Lynn Ligon, spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

After a 12-hour journey, the immigrants poured out of the 53-foot trailer exhausted and dehydrated at a truck stop.

The truck left the scene before authorities arrived. It was later discovered about 40 miles north of Dallas in Anna, where two bodies were found in the parked rig. Another man who stumbled from the back of the truck was hospitalized in serious condition.

The temperature hit 96 degrees in Dallas on Saturday and one of the victims said they had futilely torn a small hole in the truck's roof for air.

Fourteen passengers remained hospitalized Sunday and three were jailed for entering the country illegally. Three women and five children were released to Dallas-area family members, Ligon said.

They will be given the choice of voluntary return to Mexico or appearing at an immigration hearing.

The truck, which was carrying medical supplies, apparently began its route Friday in Santa Fe, N.M., before spending the night at a truck stop in El Paso. Ligon said authorities were not sure where the immigrants crossed the border.

Dallas authorities were called after the immigrants stumbled to nearby homes searching for water.

Javier Mendoza, who lives across the street from the truck stop, said six adults and six children collapsed in his back yard.

``It was scary to have so many people just show up at the door asking for water,'' Mendoza said in Sunday's editions of The Dallas Morning News. ``I didn't know what happened, but they needed water and they needed help.''

The tractor-trailer was registered to Boyd Logistics Inc., El Paso. Messages left at the company Sunday weren't immediately returned.