Farmworker Rosa Miriam Sánchez Killed by Truck on Field, Employees Told To Keep Working
On September 20, the mother-of-three, who was originally from El Salvador, was working picking carrots on the field. As reported by KGET, a truck backed into Sánchez, and she died in her daughter’s arms moments later.
According to Univision 21, Sánchez’s daughter, Miriam Ramírez, was also working on the field. She recalled the tragic incident: “I heard screams and I saw a truck drive ahead, and I still heard screams.”
“I looked around and I couldn’t see my mother,” she added. “I ran towards the screams and found her on the ground.”
A fellow farmworker, Ernesto Pérez, confirmed the tragic truck accident to the outlet: “The truck was moving in reverse and was going fast, and hit her. He passed over her once, and then again.”
Even worse, Pérez affirmed that the accident “could’ve been avoided.” He explained, “That same week, [the truck driver] had already hit another truck. And they didn’t do anything to him. There were many other times that he had hit other things.”
Farmworker group supervisor Nayeli Flores told KGET that they had warned higher-ups about the dangers involved with that driver. “This accident shouldn’t have happened because we did let our supervisors know about this truck driver.”
“I don’t know why they never did anything,” she said. As per the field’s laborers, the group was told to keep working — even after Sánchez was fatally struck.
Field laborers say they were told “to finish” their work even after Sánchez was hit by the truck
Sánchez’s daughter Ramírez opened up to Univision 21 about her mother’s tragic death.
“I got closer to her face and saw that she was not okay [and] took out my phone to call 911,” she remembered. “I stayed with her, I was trying to speak to her, but she looked like she couldn’t see me.”
Later, “someone arrived 10 or 15 minutes later” to tell Ramírez that her mother was no longer breathing. “[They told me] that they couldn’t help her anymore.” The grieving daughter added, “It happened so fast that there wasn’t anything to be done.”
“It didn’t have to happen,” Ramírez said in the interview. “We stayed with [my mother]. I know that some people were still working.”
Pérez recalled similar events to KGET. “We ended up calling 911, and what I felt wrong was that they continued working throughout the whole thing instead of them moving out.”
“They still stayed working there,” Pérez remembered.
Supervisor Flores also recalled asking around about the right course of action after the truck struck Sánchez. “I did ask, ‘Hey, should we leave this part?’, because it was right next to [Sánchez].”
“They just told me ‘We just have to finish this part, even though if we need help, we’re going to have to finish,’” she explained. “So they brought another crew next to her and they finished that part.”
Flores also told Telemundo Valle Central that, as workers, they have no option but to follow orders. “We’re just workers, we take orders, they didn’t give us the option to stop.”
“The worst thing is that the man isn’t even in jail,” Ramírez stated, seemingly referring to the truck driver that allegedly struck her mother.
Emotionally, the daughter added in tears: “She was the most important person to me because we were always together.”
Now, some people are calling for a “boycott” on Grimmway Farms after the death of the farmworker
As per KGET, the truck driver in the incident is employed by a contractor named J Garcia. Meanwhile, supervisor Flores and the farm laborers she works with are also contractors, employed by the company Esparza Enterprises.
mitú reached out to Grimmway Farms for a comment, who told us: “We are heartbroken by Ms. Sanchez’s death and for all those impacted by this accident.” The statement from Jeff Huckaby, President and CEO of the farm, also explains how “first responders were notified immediately and arrived at the scene of the accident within minutes.”
“The tragedy was witnessed by some of Ms. Sanchez’s family and co-workers, and we empathize with their trauma and grief,” they added. Clarifying that “Ms. Sanchez was not a Grimmway Farms employee,” the company said that “she and her co-workers are part of our extended Grimmway family.”
Grimmway Farms said they are “fully cooperating with” state and regulatory authorities’ investigations, including Cal-OSHA’s, and have launched “internal investigations” as well.
The company also spoke on the allegation that employees or contractors were required to continue working after Sánchez’s passing. They stated, “Based on early findings from our ongoing internal investigations, we do not believe a directive was made by Grimmway to continue work on the day of the accident.”
“However, it is evident work should have ceased immediately. We continue to meet with employees and contractors who were present to understand what happened, so that appropriate training is undertaken to make certain this does not happen again.”
Still, the farmworkers who witnessed the tragedy are speaking out about the injustice. “They demonstrated that day that we are nothing to them,” farmworker Pérez stated point-blank. “[Sánchez] was there and they kept working 10 or 15 feet away.”
Over on social media, many people are responding to Grimmway Farms’ posts with comments such has: “You do not value the life of your workers.”
Meanwhile, on Instagram, many others are expressing their anger and disappointment, calling for a boycott of the farm. One user commented on Grimmway Farms’ page: “Your negligence cost Rosa Miriam Sánchez her life and took her away from her children and family.”
They added, “You claim to care about employees, yet your actions show the contrary. Shame on you. Boycott Grimmway carrots.” As per the company’s Instagram page, they are currently the “largest producer of carrots” in the world.
Many others are writing about their shock at how the farm has not yet released a statement. One X user replied to one of the farm’s photos of a bag of carrots: “One day after a farm worker dies while picking carrots and you post this!?”
Meanwhile, many others continue to call for a boycott on the farm. Activist @flowerinspanish wrote on Instagram, “Boycott Grimmway Farms until their farm workers are unionized.”
They also called the tragic incident “inhumane but also a grave violation of basic worker rights and dignity.”
Another X user calls for similar action. “Do not support Grimmway Farms moving forward,” they wrote. “Get your carrots elsewhere.”
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