The Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced on Wednesday that his department had received a heart-wrenching call from a man who claimed that he and other immigrants, numbering about 80 people, were trapped in the back of a tanker truck.
The man who explained that they were unable to breathe properly in their confined state requested immediate help before they would pass out. This SOS prompted the police to initiate a wide-scale search in Antonio, Texas.
The caller called 911 on Monday, February 8, around 10 pm. He claimed they’ve been trapped in a tanker truck and needed immediate evacuation. The call recording was made available to news outlets.
The call was made in Spanish, and the voice of people crying and making uncomfortable noises could be heard in the background. The call, which lasted nearly four minutes, saw the caller pleading for help all through the entire duration. He particularly noted that they could die soon if help didn’t come their way.
The caller added that all the oxygen in the confined space had been used up. When the dispatcher asked how many they were at their location, he replied they were up to about 80 trapped persons. No sooner had the first call come in than the second call dropped in, wherein the man once again told the dispatcher that help was yet to come, and they were unaware of their current location.
He said they were inside a tanker, and the entire environment was dark. He noted that they might be parked by the side of the road due to the noise of cars driving past them.
Salazar noted that it was a frightening moment for the dispatchers who were moved by what they heard.
The call had both local and federal agencies launching a massive search for the migrants. Immigration and Customs officials also got involved. The Bexar County Police Department has since released a surveillance video of what it suspected was the truck. However, the sheriff noted that it would be quite tricky trying to locate a truck in an expansive city with lots of connecting highways.
With two days gone by since the call was made, observers were afraid if the migrants were still alive. However, Salazar said there was a glimmer of hope remaining. He said the migrants might have been deserted by their driver when he realized the dire situation that they had found themselves in. The sheriff said he couldn’t begin to fathom the emotional trauma the entrapped migrants had been forced to undergo.
Still, observers are wont to think that the call must have been a stunt of some sort pulled by a mischievous individual trying to prank the police and the public. However, Salazar said he was willing to put his paycheck on the line that the call wasn’t a hoax. He said what they heard sounded very real. He said the current episode is just one among thousands of scenarios whereby immigrants had to be smuggled into the country through harsh and sometimes life-threatening conditions.