TUCSON, AZ - Eight people believed to be in the country illegally have been hospitalized for heat exhaustion after being found inside a truck at a gas station northwest of Tucson, authorities said Monday.
The eight found Sunday near Picacho Peak were transported to University Medical Center in Tucson, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities said two people were reported to be in critical condition, two were in serious condition and four were listed in stable condition. Their names, ages and nationalities weren't immediately released.
Sheriff's spokesman Tim Gaffney said the eight may be in the United States illegally.
They told deputies they all were picked up in Douglas by a man who was driving the U-Haul truck and a woman who was the front-seat passenger.
Each of the eight reportedly paid $5,000 for transportation to Phoenix, authorities said.
Authorities said the driver and his female passenger reportedly fled the vehicle, but were later picked up for questioning by U.S. Border Patrol agents.
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 stagger out of the vehicle when it stopped at a convenience store off Interstate 10 about 2 p.m. Sunday, Avra Valley Fire District officials said.