October 26, 2023

USA: 58yo Female Farm Worker Killed After Being Run Over By A Truck Reversing While She Was Working In The Fields. Workers Told To Finish Shift Next To Her Body. NO ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE.


KGET News published October 18, 2023: Farm worker killed on the field, employees told to finish shift next to her body.

written by Jacqueline Gutierrez
Thursday October 26, 2023

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Grimmway Farms issued a statement on a farmworker’s death in a carrot field one month after her death.

Rosa Miriam Sanchez died after she was struck by a work vehicle in front of her coworkers and daughter at the Grimmway Farm in New Cuyama on Sept. 20.

17 News previously reported witnesses said the driver of the vehicle was driving fast. A witness told 17 News work in the field continued as usual after Sanchez’s death.

Grimmway Farms issued a statement on its Instagram page Wednesday evening in regards to the incident.

Grimmway Farms officials said in the statement that it is important that incidents like these are investigated by authorities and they empathize with the workers’ traumas.

Grimmway officials also said from its early findings into the incident they don’t believe anyone from Grimmway told workers to continue working after Sanchez died. Cal OSHA is also investigating the incident.

The full statement says:
On September 20, 2023, a tragic accident occurred in Grimmway Farms’ bunch carrot fields in Cuyama. Ms. Rosa Sanchez, an employee of Esparza Enterprises died after being hit by a truck owned and operated by Garcia Trucking. 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. Ms. Sanchez was not a Grimmway Farms employee, but she and her co-workers are part of our extended Grimmway family. We are heartbroken by Ms. Sanchez’s death and for all those impacted by this accident.

It’s important to note that accidents like these are investigated by state and regulatory authorities, including Cal-OSHA. Grimmway Farms is fully cooperating with these investigations, and we have launched our own internal investigations into this terrible occurrence. Additionally, her employer and the trucking company are conducting their own investigations. As we fully understand what happened, Grimmway will take appropriate corrective actions and will work with the relevant contractors, requiring they do as well.

It has been suggested that employees or contractors were required to continue to work in the same field immediately after this tragic accident occurred. 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.

While we await the final analysis and further information, we again extend our deepest sympathies to Ms. Sanchez’s family and her co-workers.
The driver was employed by the contractor Garcia Trucking, Grimmway said in its statement.

A witness previously told 17 News some of the workers left their jobs over fear for their safety.

written by Cecilia Trevino
Wednesday October 18, 2023

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A 58-year-old mother is now gone after she was fatally struck by a vehicle while working in the fields.

Witnesses say her daughter was holding her in her last moments.

“It was… heartbreaking, watching her. Because she basically passed in her arms,” said Ernesto Perez Jr.

Farm workers were picking carrots just before noon on Sept. 20 when a truck backed into Rosa Miriam Sanchez at the Grimmway Farm in New Cuyama, which is about 66 miles southwest of downtown Bakersfield.

“He [the driver] was just going fast, and he hits her, I see the truck jump. And at first, I thought it was a water jug, so when he went back forward that’s when I realized there was a person, and when we ran up, it was my… it was Miss Rosa,” said Perez Jr., a coworker of Rosa.

But things kept moving along as usual.

“We ended up calling 9-1-1, and what I felt wrong was that they continued working throughout the whole thing instead of them moving out, they still stayed working there,” said Perez Jr.

Nayeli Flores, who supervised Rosa Sanchez’s group, asked if they should move away from her body.

“I did ask, ‘Hey, should we leave this part?’, because it was right next to [Rosa] Miriam Sanchez, and they just told me ‘We just have to finish this part, even though if we need help, we’re going to have to finish,'” said Flores. “So they brought another crew next to her and they finished that part.”

This is a tragedy Miriam Ramirez, Rosa’s daughter, says could’ve been avoided.

“Even the truck that hit her didn’t even have, like, it’s supposed to make this beeping noise when it reverses, it didn’t have that. The driver was going really fast,” said Miriam Ramirez.

Perez Jr. says the driver would usually go too fast and close to workers, which other drivers didn’t do at their farm.

“It could’ve been avoided because he had hit a truck on Monday that same week,” said Perez Jr.

“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,” Flores said.

The driver is allegedly employed by Garcia Trucking.

Flores and her group of workers are employed by the contractor Esparza Enterprises, both contractors declined to comment on this.

Grimmway Farms, which owns the field, told 17 News they are saddened by this loss, and value each employee and contract labor employee like family.

But Miriam Ramirez is demanding justice for her mother.

“At least I want that person to go to jail, because nothing happened to him either,” said Miriam Ramirez.

Miriam Ramirez says the orders to finish picking up the carrots showed how much they were valued as people.

“It wasn’t even something important, they didn’t have to finish. They really didn’t have to do any of that, they just… It’s like apathy I guess, they didn’t really care,” said Miriam Ramirez.

Nayeli Flores says she had 24 workers in her group, but since the incident she lost eight who feared for their safety.

Flores said Rosa was always a role model and respectful worker.

CalOSHA is investigating this incident. The Santa Barbara Coroner’s Office said they are investigating the death.

KGET News published November 25, 2020: Grimmway Farms sold to private equity firm in Indiana.

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