Neighbors: Man charged in Texas trucking tragedy hasn't been in Clearwater for years

Neighbors: Man charged in Texas trucking tragedy hasn't been in Clearwater for years

Since the deadly human tracking tragedy in San Antonio started unfolding Sunday, authorities have referred to the truck's driver, 60-year-old James Bradley Jr., as a Clearwater man.

But if Bradley had in fact been living in the same Clearwater apartment where records show he once resided, his neighbors at the same condo complex say it was a long time ago.

Millie Espadaro, for example, has been living in the building next door for 26 years. She heard about the incident in Texas.

“Oh, terrible. Oh my God, yeah,” said Espadaro. But when it comes to Bradley? “I don't remember that person, no,” she said.

“It sure is a sad story, it sure is,” said neighbor Nick Nickerson.

Nickerson says it didn't take long for word to spread that Bradley had once lived in the building right next-door to his as well.

But referring to the 60-year-old truck driver as a Clearwater man didn’t make sense, they say, since as best anyone could remember, it had been several years.

“Not even a block away,” said Nickerson. “I can walk across the yard. It's, you never know who your neighbor is.”

By Monday afternoon, Bradley's picture was readily available online.

Images of him had been taken at the federal courthouse, where he faces the death penalty for a long list of charges.

We showed his picture to people at the nearest truck stop along US19 in Clearwater, but they couldn’t remember him either.

“He doesn't look familiar,” said a clerk working the register. “But then again, we deal with so many people every day.”

In court, Bradley claimed he had no idea what he was hauling. No idea what was in the back of his rig - until it was too late.

We spoke with local truck drivers who say even though that sounds unlikely, it is possible.

“Some types of truck drivers pick up a load that's already pre-pulled,” said trucker Carl Carmichael, “And they're delivering that product. And they don't really know it's back there.”

Bradley's truck is registered to Pyle Transportation, a trucking company in Iowa.

By phone, they confirmed Bradley did live in Clearwater at some point, but had since moved to Louisville, Kentucky.

Bradley, they say, is an owner operator of the trailer at the center of this investigation, and that it was sold a month ago.

Hours before this morning's court hearing, they corroborated what Bradley had told police in his criminal complaint; that he was supposed to deliver the truck to a new owner Brownsville, Texas.

“If he wasn't even close to his destination, I don't - who knows what he was doing? I don't know,” said Carmichael.

Bradley says he was on his way to Brownsville, but had driven through San Antonio along the way to have the truck washed and detailed for its new owner.

With all of that said, it's still not clear why officials refer to Bradley as a Clearwater man.

Although he did reside here at some point, it was long enough ago that no one at his old address could even remember it.

The crime he's accused of, however, they say they won’t soon forget.

“He ought to be more God-fearing,” said Nickerson. “I don't know what he's got in his conscience to treat people like that.”

 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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