Was farm worker death caused by negligence? Tell Cal OSHA to conduct a criminal investigation ASAP!
We need your immediate help. 54-year old Eladio Hernandez died while working under the scorching California sun. He was working for the farm labor contractor (FLC) YNT Harvesting at Hillside Orchards on May 9. The orchard is located just outside of Kettleman City in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
Eladio’s story is especially horrendous as he got sick at around 1 pm and the company waited for almost 3 hours before calling for medical assistance. We need you to send a message to Cal OSHA immediately and tell them to conduct a full criminal investigation of this death and prosecute to the full extent of the law.
We first heard about this situation when we got an anonymous e-mail from a farm worker. It took time to follow up because workers were afraid. After a week of investigation this is what we learned.
According to workers, on the afternoon of May 9th at about 1pm, Eladio Hernandez complained about being sick, but was ignored by his foreman and told to get back to work. As Eladio started to climb up the ladder to continue picking peaches, he fell. He was told to go and sit under a tree. The foreman went over and yelled at him, "Get it up. Don’t be lazy, you son of a bitch" and told Eladio that he was faking. At around 3pm several workers told the foreman that he needed to do something about Eladio. That he was not getting better. At around 3:30 the foreman Manuel Gomez took Eladio and dropped him off near the sorting facility where workers were sorting the fruit that the harvesting crews were picking. He just left him there and went back to his crew.
Eladio walked over to the workers. He looked visibly sick. His lips were white, parched and dry and he had had blue and purple markings around his eyes. Several workers went up to him and asked him if he was okay. He said no, he felt really sick. Workers attempted to fan him with cardboard to give him fresh air and wiped water on his mouth. Eladio started to shake and have convulsions. Co-worker Rodrigio Gonzalez told us Eladio told them "I don’t want to die."
The workers got scared and someone finally called 911. Eladio lost consciousness while waiting for the ambulance and sorter Alma Andrete told us a co-worker gave him CPR and revived him twice. When the ambulance got there at approximately 4:20 they continued to try to revive him again, but it was too late.
Worker Rodrigio Gonzalez told us “I thought his life could have been saved, but nobody did anything and just left him there waiting to die.” Sorter Alma Andrete added, “I could not believe that all of the upper management were just letting this worker die in front of us”.
We need your help to make sure the people responsible for this shocking death are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Please e-mail the responsible agency, Cal-OSHA and demand they take immediate action.