(Trends Wide) — Nine people were treated for dehydration and dozens more fled the scene as authorities discovered up to 100 undocumented workers in the trailer of a disabled semi in rural Texas, officials said Friday.
The truck was disabled on a rural road about 3 kilometers north of the town of Ganado. When authorities investigated shortly after 7 am CT, they discovered a trailer full of people, detaining 10 while others fled the scene.
Jackson Sheriff Kelly R. Janica told reporters that nine people were hospitalized for dehydration and at least four of them have been released.
The people in the trailer told him they had no drinks or supplies, he said.
“Obviously they came during the night, that was (Thursday), and they hadn’t had any water this morning,” the sheriff said.
He said “it may have been a blessing that the truck broke down” where it did because a man who could speak English told him they were headed much farther north.
A news release from the sheriff’s office said 64 people, including the truck driver, were taken into custody and “there are still 40 undocumented people who have not been taken into custody.” The undocumented workers would be turned over to US Customs and Border Protection, the sheriff told reporters.
The people were from Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and at least one other country, the sheriff said.
Janica said there have been no other incidents of this magnitude involving undocumented workers in her county. In most cases she has dealt with just a few people, she said, with some as many as 20 people.
According to Trends Wide affiliate KHOU, the people who fled were found on the property of Dr. Robert Burlingame.
“I saw two of them in the cornfields,” Burlingame told the Houston-based station. “These guys were so desperate for water, you’d just yell ‘water’ and they’d come running.”
The sheriff said deputies will not be looking for more people, but will be in the area overnight and Saturday to offer help to people in need.
Trends Wide’s Andy Rose and Jeremy Grisham contributed to this report.