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'It's a tragedy': Community unites one week after bodies of migrants found in tractor-trailer

Hundreds of people gathered along Quintana Road to honor and pray for the 53 men, women, and children who died after suffering in an abandoned semi-truck.

SAN ANTONIO — It’s been one week since the deadliest human smuggling incident in U.S. history unfolded in San Antonio, and dozens of families from Mexico and Central America continue to wait for answers.

Hundreds of people gathered along Quintana Road on the city’s far southwest side Monday, where they prayed and paid their respects to the 53 migrants who died after being discovered in a sweltering semitruck on June 27.

Authorities say the migrants had no access to water or functioning air conditioning. It’s unknown at this time how long the men, women and children were stuck inside the tractor-trailer. 

Four men have been charged in connection with the event. The driver appeared in federal court last week and faces life in prison or the death penalty. 

Members from the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic church organized a rosary in front of a growing memorial at the site of the abandoned semi-truck. 

Multiple crosses stand with the names and photographs of the victims.

A sea of candles, water bottles and flowers surround the biblical symbols.

Benny Sandoval is a devout Catholics who traveled from Austin to pray for the migrants and their families.

Sandoval’s connection to the struggles of migrants goes back 50 years when he came to the U.S. from Mexico. While his experience was not disastrous, Sandoval still feels for the 53 people who suffered and died in San Antonio.

“I feel very sad about my brothers from Mexico and from different countries,” Sandoval said. 

Ernest Torres, who grew up in the Alamo City, visited the memorial for the first time, amazed but not surprised by the amount of community support.

What he can’t believe is the callousness of some people to prioritize profit over humanity.  

His heart swells for the victims from Mexico and Central America. 

“The loss of life, the sacrifice of what the people may go through, not knowing that it will end this way and they’re just trying to seek a better life for themselves and their families. It’s a tragedy,” Torres said.  

Eight of the migrant survivors are still being cared for in San Antonio hospitals. 

Over the weekend, Baptist Health discharged its final patient.

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