Trafficking victims found in sweltering trailer suffered 'unbearable' heat

Meteorologist Justin Stapleton explains how hot it can get in a tractor trailer

SAN ANTONIO – The 38 trafficking victims found in a trailer on the city's Southwest side early Sunday morning suffered unbearably high temperatures.

VIDEO: Deadly heat inside vehicle 

Meteorologist Justin Stapleton explained just how hot it can get in a semi-truck trailer and said little air circulation likely exacerbated the conditions in sweltering trailer.

STORY: 9 dead, dozens found inside 18-wheeler 

Because the semi-truck trailer was metal, it became a very efficient conductor of heat. Temperatures outside reached 100 degrees yesterday afternoon in San Antonio.

However, inside the trailer, it was likely upwards of 140 degrees by late afternoon.

Even by 10 p.m., while the outside air temperatures dropped into the mid-80s, because the heat became trapped inside the metal trailer with very little open-air circulation, temperatures in the trailer were still likely between 120 to 130 degrees.

Extreme heat effects can compromise the human ability to cool itself down with no water and open air circulation.

Here's how hot it can get on an average summer day:

Time: 6 a.m.
Average Temperature: 77
Inside the Semi-Truck Trailer: 120

Time: 12 p.m.
Average Temperature: 93
Inside the Semi-Truck Trailer: 135

Time: 5 p.m.
Average Temperature: 100
Inside the Semi-Truck Trailer: 140+

Time: 8 p.m.
Average Temperature: 85
Inside the Semi-Truck Trailer: 130

That can also lead to elevated heart rate as the body become dehydrated and can see the symptoms of heat exhaustion, dizziness and eventually, the more critical and in this case, fatal symptoms of heat stroke.

Download the Click2Houston news app in your app store to stay up-to-date with the latest news while you're on the go.

Sign up for KPRC 2 newsletters to get breaking news, sports, entertainment, contests and more delivered straight to your email inbox.

About the Author: