Murder charges sought in U-Haul human smuggling casePosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Murder charges are pending against two Phoenix residents following the death of a person who was being smuggled in the back of a U-Haul truck on Sunday.
Nathan Lamb, 25, and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kay, 25, are accused of loading several individuals into the back of a U-Haul truck in Douglas with a destination of Phoenix.
During the ride, many became severely dehydrated and overheated, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.
Someone called 911 after seeing people "falling out and staggering" as they attempted to get out of the box truck at a travel center along Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak northwest of Tucson Sunday afternoon.
Lamb and Kay told sheriff's detectives that while driving they heard "pounding and banging" from inside the cargo area.
They said they didn't stop right away because they were afraid they would be seen. When they did stop, they saw the condition of some of the individuals and thought they were going to die. The couple said they were scared so they fled the scene.
Two of the people being smuggled were in critical condition and had to be airlifted to a hospital. Six others were transported by ground ambulance.
Additional people fled into the desert but were located by the U.S. Border Patrol.
The individuals being smuggled said they had paid $5,000 each for transportation to Phoenix.
Lamb and Kay were booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center for numerous counts of human smuggling, aggravated assault and endangerment.
The sheriff's office was notified early Wednesday morning that one of the victims had died at a hospital. An autopsy will be conducted. Two of the other patients are still at the hospital but in stable condition.
Sheriff's spokesman Tim Gaffney said the sheriff's office will request that a felony murder charge be filed against Lamb and Kay.