Gabriel Infante, 24, was falsely accused on having taken drugs when he was, in fact, dying of heat exposure. His family is suing Infante's employer, B Comm Constructors, over the 2022 death digging trenches for fiber-optic cable.
According to the lawsuit, Infante began exhibiting heatstroke symptoms including confusion, altered mental state, dizziness and loss of consciousness. His friend and co-worker Joshua Espinoza began pouring cold water over him, trying to cool him down. A foreman insisted Espinoza call the police, claiming Infante's bizarre behavior was due to drugs, and the foreman pushed for a drug test when emergency medical services arrived.
On the day of the incident, temperatures in San Antonio reached in excess of 100F (37.7C) with humidity levels reaching as high as 75%, noted the lawsuit.
Infante later died in a hospital from severe heatstroke and had a recorded internal temperature of 109.8F (43.2C)
The company wasn't forthcoming even then, according to the lawsuit: "I have never, ever gotten a phone call from the owner of the company to offer his condolences for my son's death," says Infante's mother.
I think there's a wee gap in the discussion around this. I don't think the guy in charge accused Infante of being on drugs to explain the heatstroke symptoms. I figure he accused him of being on drugs because even residual weed or alcohol might help the company and its insurers avoid liability. That's why they insisted on him getting tested when he was being loaded onto an ambulance. They would have been told at that point by EMTs what was going on, even if they didn't know. Their interest was in not paying out. You might say "burn it all down," but climate change is already on it and it ain't helping.
More heatstroke deaths in Texas are on the cards,too, and it's not just the baking-hot weather there this summer. The governor, Greg Abbott, recently signed a law that forbids local government from enacting heat protection standards for construction workers and lifting whatever standards had already been imposed.