One of the victims of a horrific van crash that killed 10 migrant workers from Peru has been identified as 48-year-old Enrique Arturo Arenaza León.
Peru’s Consul-General in Toronto, Aurelio Pinto-Bazurco Rittler, confirmed the death on Peruvian radio on Tuesday evening.
Mr. León’s wife, Patricia Aguilar, said he has been in Canada for two years and two months, legally.
Ms. Aguilar told a local radio station she practically lived off the earnings that Mr. León sent back to her and asked the consul-general to help to send her husband’s body back to Peru.
His Facebook page indicates that he was living in Kitchener, Ont.
Peru’s consulate in Toronto said 13 Peruvian farm workers were in the van that collided with a flatbed truck in a deadly southwestern Ontario accident Monday.
Consulate officials said 10 Peruvians are dead and three are in hospital with injuries as a result. The three injured workers are dispersed among three separate hospitals.
Early reports had suggested crash victims also included migrant workers from Jamaica.
Jamaica’s consulate in Toronto said, however, they were not aware of any Jamaicans killed or wounded in the accident.
The horrific crash in southwestern Ontario killed 11 people in total, some of them “hard-working South American guys” in the country only a week, said the man who hired the migrant labourers for the day.
The crash happened shortly after the workers had wrapped up a day vaccinating chickens in a barn on a hill overlooking the intersection where the fatal collision occurred.
Shortly before sundown Monday, a flatbed truck slammed into the workers’ 15-seater passenger van on the rural road, in one of the worst crashes in Ontario’s history.
Two staff members from the Ontario Labour Ministry are at the scene of the accident investigating.
“I think we have more questions than answers right now,” Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey told reporters at Queen’s Park. “At the moment, all we know is it was a terrible accident.”
On Tuesday, police named the driver of the truck as Christopher Fulton, 38, a London resident. Remains of the other victims had been brought to the coroner’s office in Toronto, where identifications will be made.
The tragic incident will leave families overseas without a breadwinner and shine a spotlight on the tens of thousands of people who arrive in the country every year to work tough farm jobs for little pay.
Albert Burgers, who owns the farm the victims had departed, said they were employees of Brian’s Poultry Services in Mildmay, about an hour’s drive north. Brian’s, a business which hires out crews to perform tasks on area chicken farms, has refused to comment.
Mr. Burgers said 16 migrant workers – one woman and 15 men – arrived at his farm around 8 a.m. Monday, accompanied by a couple of other Brian’s employees. They worked until about 4:15 p.m., then departed in two vans.
The farmer had employed the services of the same crew about 8 weeks ago and planned to have them back next week to move chickens to a different barn. Five of the men had only been in the country a week or so, he said.
“I know them as hard-working South American guys. They’re happy. They seem to like what they do,” he said, standing outside his house. “I still can see all the faces.”
Mr. Burgers said he left shortly before the workers did. When he returned shortly after, he saw the truck overturned at the intersection.
“I’m really sad for the families,” he said.
By Tuesday morning, both vehicles and the debris from the crash had been cleaned up. All that remained to mark the scene were patches of torn up grass and several crushed trees against the side of the blue clap board farmhouse where the van had come to rest.
Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, the van carrying 13 workers was travelling west on a narrow local road, controlled by a stop sign, near the hamlet of Hampstead, about 15 kilometres northeast of Stratford.
As it headed through the intersection, it was T-boned by the southbound flatbed. The force of the crash pushed the van across a field and crushed it against the side of a building. The truck flipped and came to rest on its side.
The driver of the truck worked for Speedy Transport, a Brampton, Ont.-based trucking company. In a statement, CEO Jared Martin said police had told the company the van had failed to stop, his driver had tried to avoid it but could not.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our driver’s family and the families of the other victims involved in this horrible tragedy,” he said. “This is the first fatality we’ve experienced on the road since inception.”
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