FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) – A Phoenix man and his girlfriend may be facing murder charges after a man with heat exhaustion died after being transported in a truck with other immigrants, authorities said Wednesday.
The man was among eight heat exhaustion victims found Sunday in the back of a U-Haul truck parked at an Interstate 10 gas station at Picacho Peak northwest of Tucson, Pinal County Sheriff’s officials said.
Sheriff’s spokesman Tim Gaffney said the office was notified early Wednesday that the victim, a man from Mexico, had died at a hospital. The victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of his family.
Two other people remain hospitalized in stable condition.
Sheriff Paul Babeu said previously that the temperature in the back of the truck may have exceeded 180 degrees. The people being transported reportedly each paid $5,000 to be driven from southern Arizona to Phoenix.
The sheriff’s office will request a felony murder charge be filed against Nathan Lamb, 25, and his passenger and girlfriend Elizabeth Kay, according to Gaffney.
The two already were being held on multiple counts of charges of human smuggling, aggravated assault and endangerment.
Gaffney said he didn’t know whether Lamb and Kay have attorneys, but said the court likely will appoint defense lawyers for them.
Information provided by the Border Patrol and those in the truck indicated they had entered the county illegally, Gaffney said.
The people in the truck said they were traveling to Phoenix after being picked up in Douglas by a man who was driving the U-Haul truck and a woman who was the front-seat passenger, the sheriff’s office said.
During the ride, many in the group of eight became severely dehydrated and overheated in triple-digit temperatures inside the truck, according to authorities.
Someone called 911 after seeing people either fall or stagger out of the vehicle when it stopped.
Lamb and Kay, 25, told detectives that they heard the people in the back of the truck pounding and banging from inside the cargo area but were afraid to stop right away, sheriff’s officials said.
When they did stop and then saw the condition of the people in the truck, authorities said Lamb and Kay fled but they were later arrested.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)