Tagged: trucks

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Super singles approved in Alberta

CALGARY, Alta. – As of July 1, the Government of Alberta has given the green light to the use of wide-base single tires on provincial roadways.

Following in the recent footsteps of Saskatchewan, trucks in Alberta will now be permitted to use the new generation single tire at at-par weights – single axle (9,100kg); tandem axle (17,000kg); tandem axle with spread 2.4 meters or more but less than three meters (21,000kg); and tandem axle with spread three meters or more but not more than 3.7 meters (24,000kg).

With Manitoba also allowing the use of wide-base single tires, B.C. is the lone Western Canadian province that has not yet given the thumbs up to the new tire.

Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) president Lorraine Card received the news from the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Brian Mason, and is relieved the ongoing effort has finally come to fruition.

“This file has been open for over 10 years, so we are very pleased that we’ve been able to come to a successful conclusion,” said Card.

Trucking companies in Ontario and Quebec have long been able to use the new generation tire, but in Western Canada the process has been much slower.

Alberta Transportation, along with the AMTA, conducted a pilot project to determine if wide-base single tires would be a viable alternative to the traditional dual tire in an effort to save fuel and help the Government of Alberta make future decisions on the new generation tire. And during the yearlong pilot, super singles showed an average of 8% fuel savings compared to duals.

Initially, Westcan Bulk Transport was the lone company participating in the pilot, making runs between Edmonton and Calgary from July 1 to Aug. 31, 2016, carrying the maximum allowable axle loads as permitted on a two-tire configuration. Westcan made 98 trips per week (14 per day) on this run, which the government said would limit the number of variables to measure, making the data easy to interpret.

Rosenau Transport eventually came into the fold, testing the wide-base single tire and ending Phase 2 of the project at the end of January.

Rosenau Transport did the same run as Westcan between Edmonton and Calgary with full weights on the super singles, but also included trips on Highway 63 to Fort McMurray and Highway 43 to Grande Prairie.

Card said the AMTA had attempted to get approval for higher weights for the pilot project, but ultimately did concede to lower weight limits to what was tested during the pilot and has now been approved by the provincial government.

Initial concerns over the use of wide-base single tires were focused around potential road damage, but Card said studies on the 455 super single were telling.

“Speaking to our counterparts in Ontario and Quebec,” she said, “they have not seen any noticeable pavement damage. For example, if a road was scheduled to be done in 20 years, it might now have to be done in 19.98 years. There has been no noticeable pavement damage with the use of these tires.”

Drivers who have used the new generation tire have also relayed to the AMTA that they offer a nice ride and superior handling during all seasons.

The pilot program is now complete, running from July 2016 to this past June.

However, because the Government of Alberta’s authority is limited to provincial highways, the use of super singles is limited, and is still not permitted within municipalities.

“We still need to continue working with the various municipalities to get approval for those roads,” Card said, adding that there are 340 municipalities in Alberta. “The province only has authority over provincial highways, and anything in municipalities goes back to the individual municipalities.”

This poses some challenges to companies looking to pick up and drop of freight in a city or town, but Card is confident municipalities will hop on board.

“We’re hopeful that all of the municipalities will buy into the process and will allow the tires,” said Card. “The provincial government is working on getting information and communication out there to (municipalities) to let them know of the minister’s announcement.”

Card admitted that there is a cost to companies looking to change over to wide-base single tires, and now that they have been approved, she expects the new technology to take a bit of time to become commonplace.

“I think it will be a slow process,” Card said. “Any discussions we have had with our membership was wait-and-see what’s going to happen. We’re not expecting every truck to start running new generation tires in the province. We hope to see that there will be more of an uptake with these tires going forward.”

Card did point out that trucks coming from the east will now be allowed to run super singles right through to the Alberta-B.C. border.

“It’s just another way to break down some of the barriers,” she said.

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After deadly smuggling case, officials charge truck driver and decry ‘crime against humanity’

(Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

SAN ANTONIO — The people packed into the sweltering tractor-trailer needed air. They banged on the walls for help, but the vehicle kept going. Trapped with as many as 200 people in the pitch-black trailer, they took turns breathing through a hole in the side. Some just passed out.

They had been tagged with colored tape, allowing the smugglers to more easily sort them at the journey’s end — who would be handed off to which awaiting vehicle.

The detailed account was laid out in a federal court filing Monday, coming from men who chronicled their harrowing journeys to a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio. Some had traveled hundreds of miles from central Mexico.

Prosecutors charged the truck’s driver — James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60 — with smuggling immigrants for financial gain resulting in death, a charge that could carry the death penalty because it resulted in people dying while in transit.

At least eight migrants perished inside the trailer; two others died later. Dozens of others remain in seven area hospitals, some with critical injuries. All of the dead or injured were undocumented, federal authorities said.

It’s unknown what happened to the scores of others who the migrants told investigators had been in the trailer with them.

Before the truck was found in the Walmart parking lot here in Texas’s second-biggest city, some travelers had spent days held in a house near the border with Mexico. Some were told to pay a group linked to a deadly Mexican drug cartel thousands of dollars for safe passage across the Rio Grande. Bradley told authorities he was unaware of the trailer’s cargo and was surprised when he realized people had been trapped inside.

The truck’s discovery revealed the group’s horrifying journey to the United States at a time when immigration arrests have spiked under President Trump and illegal border crossings have plummeted, according to federal officials. The case also highlighted the extreme dangers people face as they try to enter the country.

[Read the federal criminal complaint[1]]

“To maximize their criminal profits, these human smugglers crammed more than 100 people into a tractor trailer in the stifling Texas summer heat resulting in 10 dead and 29 others hospitalized,” Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement Monday. “Human smugglers have repeatedly demonstrated that they have absolutely no regard for human life. Our ICE agents and officers, working closely with our law enforcement partners, will pursue these smugglers and bring them to justice.”


San Antonio police officers investigate the scene where eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with immigrants outside a Walmart store in stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case. (Eric Gay/AP)

At the Mexican consulate in San Antonio on Monday, workers fielded calls from the migrants’ relatives, who reached out from across the United States, including Colorado and Ohio, as well as Mexico.

[Truck driver charged in deadly smuggling case after people found ‘lying on the floor like meat’[2]]

Consul General Reyna Torres said she and the consulates of El Salvador and Guatemala met with Homeland Security authorities Monday morning. Federal officials were still struggling to identify some of the dead and injured, Torres said, adding that she has not been notified that anyone from the truck has been formally detained or arrested.

Certain visas[3] allow victims of some crimes to remain in the United States if they can help authorities investigate or prosecute crimes. The Department of Homeland Security declined to say whether the people in the trailer would be allowed to remain in the United States or sent back to their countries of origin.

Jack Staton, acting assistant director of intelligence for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, told reporters in a call Monday afternoon that he would not discuss specifics of the case.

He called human smuggling “100 percent [a] crime against humanity,” adding that, “this is just victimizing people that are attempting to get a better life.”


James Mathew Bradley Jr., left, arrives at the federal courthouse for a hearing Monday in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a hot tractor-trailer. (Eric Gay/AP)

One man, who was not identified, told investigators he began his journey in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and was to pay smugglers $5,500 when he arrived in San Antonio, according to his account, written by James Lara, a special agent with Homeland Security’s investigations.

In Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican city on the Texas border, the man said he waited with a group of 28 people before a smuggler told him that people linked to the Zetas — a violent drug cartel — were charging 12,500 pesos (more than $700 dollars) to bring people across the Rio Grande in rafts.

The Zetas drug cartel has long been involved in trafficking immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, with migrants from Central America saying smugglers have to pay off corrupt police and drug cartels alike while traveling through Mexico. The cartel has been known to exert particular influence in the northern Mexican border states, operating safe houses where large groups of migrants are stashed before being ferried across the Rio Grande.

The man from Aguascalientes said that after his group crossed the river, they walked for a while and were brought to the tractor-trailer, where they joined dozens of others inside. It was morning, he said, and they were told their journey would begin later that evening.

Another man told federal agents that he was among two dozen people who had been held in a “stash house” in Laredo, Tex., for 11 days before arriving at the trailer, which he said was already crowded and sweltering when he arrived, Lara wrote.

“The smugglers closed the doors and the interior of the trailer was pitch black and it was already hot inside,” Lara wrote in the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. “He stated they were not provided with any water or food. People inside were making noise to get someone’s attention but nobody ever came.”

It was not until that night that the doors reopened and people inside were told it was time to go, Lara said.

Authorities have focused their investigation on Bradley, the tractor-trailer’s driver. Bradley owned the truck found outside Walmart early Sunday, but not the trailer, according to public records. He told federal agents that the trailer’s refrigeration system did not work and the vent holes were likely clogged up, according to the complaint.

Bradley bought the truck — a 1999 Peterbilt model that had been completely refurbished and given a new paint job — in March for $90,000, said Justin McDaniel of Outlaw Iron in West Bend, Wis., who sold him the truck. McDaniel recalled Bradley as friendly and “your typical Southern guy.”

“That’s why the accusations being made now caught me by surprise,” McDaniel said. “It’s very disturbing.”

Bradley took out a pair of loans earlier this year to buy trucks for which he needed to make payments of almost $2,000 a month, according to records.

Alton Bradley, the driver’s nephew, said the man nicknamed “Bear” is a lifelong trucker with a passion for the work. When he heard the news, Alton Bradley, who lives in Florida, said he called his aunt — the driver’s sister — and she responded, “I’m just sick and I can’t believe it.”

In an interview Sunday, Brian Pyle, president of Pyle Transportation, the Iowa-based hauling firm with which Bradley was affiliated, said the driver was operating independently of the company. Pyle said he did not know what Bradley was transporting and said it was the driver’s “very first trip.”

He declined to characterize his relationship with Bradley or say how long they have known each other. When asked how long Bradley had worked for his company, Pyle hung up the phone.

On Facebook, where Bradley’s profile photo shows him wearing a Pyle Transportation T-shirt, Bradley is friends with Brian Pyle, at least one other Pyle family member and other Pyle truck drivers.

The truck had not been outside the store long: Surveillance video showed that it was parked outside Walmart for just 30 minutes before one of the store workers encountered someone from the trailer asking for water, a company spokesman said.

It remains unclear whether the operation discovered Sunday was related to the driver or the company, which has 18 trucks and 15 drivers, according to federal records.

Bradley has said he was unaware there were people inside the trailer, which was emblazoned with the Pyle decal.

In the complaint, Lara wrote that Bradley had told agents he was traveling from Iowa to Brownsville, Tex., to deliver the trailer. Bradley said his boss had sold the trailer and asked him to deliver it, and he was not told a delivery address or a desired time frame, Lara said.

During his initial court appearance Monday, Bradley arrived with his arms shackled and was ordered held until a bond hearing scheduled for July 27.


Shoppers pass a group visiting a makeshift memorial in the parking lot of a Walmart store near the site where authorities Sunday discovered a tractor-trailer packed with immigrants. (Eric Gay/AP)

When the trailer eventually stopped at Walmart, one of the migrants told investigators that people inside the trailer were so weak that they toppled over. Bradley told Lara he got out to go to the bathroom and heard banging and shaking from the trailer.

“Bradley said he went to open the doors and was surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground,” Lara wrote. “Bradley said he then noticed bodies just lying on the floor like meat. Bradley said he knew at least one of them was dead.”

Bradley told agents that he called his wife, who did not answer, and did not call 911. The complaint does not elaborate on why he did not call police.

Between 30 and 40 people scrambled out of the trailer after the doors were opened, Bradley said.

Bradley and one of those inside the truck offered different accounts of what happened next. The driver told federal agents no one else was there when he parked and no vehicles were there to pick up anyone. The man from Aguascalientes said that once the vehicle stopped and people flooded out of the trailer, six black SUVs were on hand to pick them up and filled up in minutes before quickly leaving.

Berman and Bever reported from Washington. Alice Crites, Abigail Hauslohner, Julie Tate and Todd Frankel in Washington; Josh Partlow in Mexico City; and Jon Silman in Land O’ Lakes, Fla., contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ apps.washingtonpost.com (apps.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ Certain visas (www.uscis.gov)
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Truck driver charged in deaths of 10 migrants in Texas

SAN ANTONIO — A truck driver faces the possibility of the death penalty or life in prison under a federal criminal complaint filed against him Monday in the deaths of 10 immigrants who were being smuggled in a stifling tractor-trailer found in a Walmart parking lot.

Human traffickers had probably packed more than 100 people into the hot, unventilated tractor-trailer driven by James M. Bradley Jr., federal officials said.

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Bradley, 60, of Clearwater, Fla., was charged under a federal law against knowingly transporting people who are in the country illegally — a law that provides for an unlimited prison term or capital punishment, if the crime results in a death.

He made a brief initial appearance in US District Court on Monday, answering, “Yes, I do,” when Judge Betsy Chestney asked if he understood the maximum penalties he faced.

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Three federal marshals escorted Bradley, who was handcuffed, to and from the courtroom. Wearing a dark blue prison uniform, he appeared composed, giving brief, direct answers to the judge’s questions.

The truck, packed with people in the country illegally, was already searingly hot when it left the Texas border town of Laredo for the 150-mile trip north to San Antonio. Soon the passengers began crying and pleading for water as the temperature continued to rise in the darkened trailer.

People took turns breathing through a single hole in the wall, survivors told police. They pounded on the sides of the truck and yelled to try to get the driver’s attention. Then they began passing out.

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When the truck was found early Sunday morning outside a Walmart store, law enforcement officials said eight of them had already died from heat exposure or asphyxiation. The death toll rose to nine on Sunday afternoon, and to 10 on Monday morning.

Twenty-nine other people found in the truck were hospitalized, some of them in critical condition. In addition, officials said, Bradley told investigators that when he first opened the truck, 30 to 40 other people who had been trapped inside fled.

Survivors who were interviewed by investigators said they were loaded into the truck from various locations in or near Laredo, Texas, and their estimates of the number of people inside at various times ranged from 70 to as many as 180 to 200.

“To maximize their criminal profits, these human smugglers crammed more than 100 people into a tractor-trailer in the stifling Texas summer heat resulting in 10 dead and 29 others hospitalized,” Thomas D. Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement.

“Human smugglers have repeatedly demonstrated that they have absolutely no regard for human life,” Homan said.

The truck was registered to Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, Iowa, the Associated Press reported. President Brian Pyle said he had sold the truck to someone in Mexico and that Bradley was supposed to deliver it to a pick-up point in Brownsville.

In a statement included in the complaint, James Lara, a Homeland Security agent, said Bradley waived his right to remain silent and spoke to investigators. He told them that he “was unaware of the contents and/or cargo,” and had been hired to deliver it to a new owner.

After parking outside the Walmart, “he heard banging and shaking in the trailer,” Lara said. “Bradley said he went to open the doors and was surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground. Bradley said he then noticed bodies just lying on the floor like meat.”

“Bradley said he knew the trailer refrigeration system didn’t work and that the four vent holes were probably clogged up,” he added.

Authorities learned of the situation when a Walmart employee called the San Antonio police around midnight Saturday to report “multiple people in need of assistance,” and a suspicious truck in the parking lot, Lara said.

Chestney scheduled a preliminary hearing for Thursday, to decide whether the government had probable cause to proceed with the case, and whether Bradley should be granted bail.

Court records from Colorado and Florida appear to show a criminal history for Bradley. Those records belong to a James Bradley with the middle initial B., rather than M., of the same age and general physical appearance.

In 1996, James B. Bradley was arrested by Aurora, Colo., police and charged with menacing with a deadly weapon and assault. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to a single felony charge and was sentenced to two years’ probation, but records show that the probation was later revoked multiple times, returning him to jail.

In 2004, he was arrested in Tampa, Fla., while driving a car that had been reported stolen in Santa Ana, Calif., and charged with grand theft auto.

Police reports show that he indicated that he had bought the car but failed to make payments, while the owner in California denied having sold it. State records do not make clear how the case was resolved.

In 2005, he was back in court in Colorado on his 1997 conviction, and sentenced to three years in prison.

The Bexar County medical examiner’s office is working with investigators and the Mexican consulate to identify the dead, which could take time, involving checking fingerprints and DNA, said Elizabeth Leos, spokeswoman for the medical examiner. San Antonio is in Bexar County.

Smuggling migrants in big trucks is a common practice for human traffickers in the region.

In 2003, 19 people died in a similar tragedy near Victoria, Texas; the driver in that case, Tyrone Williams, was convicted on dozens of charges and sentenced to life in prison without parole. In 2010, he was resentenced to 34 years in prison.

References

  1. ^ Advertisement (www.bostonglobe.com)
  2. ^ Advertisement (www.bostonglobe.com)