Five children were found crammed in a makeshift crate attached to a truck bed on a scorching afternoon last week, authorities say.
San Bernardino deputies made the discovery on May 12 after pulling over a truck in Needles, California, a small city along the Colorado River, near the Arizona border, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Law enforcement were tipped off to the situation after a witness reported “small children riding in the bed of a pick-up truck inside a small crate,” the Presse-Enterprise reported. The sighting was supposedly made west of Needles on Interstate 40 near a popular highway rest area. The truck was pulled over shortly after in the small California city.
The five children inside the wooden structure weren’t properly restrained and had “no ventilation, water, or air conditioning,” the newspaper reported.
They were aged 1 to 13, authorities said, according to KTTV. They’ve since been released into the custody of San Bernardino County Children and Family services.
Kenneth Standridge, 40, Zona Brasier, 39, and Aushajuan Hardy, 41, were arrested on suspicion of child endangerment in the incident. The accused trio are all from the Sacramento area, authorities said. They each face five counts of child endangerment, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Illegal narcotics, drug paraphernalia and a shotgun were also located in the vehicle," the San Bernardino Sheriff's Office told the Press-Enterprise.
Standridge could also face additional charges of felony possession of a firearm and suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to KTRK-TV. His bail has been set at $75,000, the ABC affiliate reported. Brasier’s bail has been set at $150,000. Hardy, who was supposedly on probation at the time of the incident, is being held without bail, local media reported. The three individuals being held at the Colorado River Station jail.
Law enforcement didn’t specify the relationship of the children to the three suspects.
Anybody with further information related to the case is asked to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department at 760-326-9200.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.