Migrant Worker Dies Amid North Carolina Farm’s Heatwave: Investigation Ensues

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A tragic incident unfolded earlier this month at Barnes Farming in North Carolina as a migrant worker from Guanajuato, Mexico tragically lost his life while temperatures soared close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The figure at the center of this unfolding story was José Arturo Gónzalez Mendoza who expired on the premises. The matter is now coming under the scrutiny of the state’s labor department.

It’s reported that emergency services were alerted to a man at the farm in cardiac or respiratory distress which led to Nash County paramedics being dispatched to the location, situated roughly 40 miles from Raleigh. Upon arriving at the scene, they discovered that Gónzalez Mendoza had not survived. Tragically, his tenure at the farm was short-lived, having begun only days prior to his untimely death.

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On the fateful day of September 5, Gónzalez Mendoza was engaged in the arduous task of sweet potato harvesting when he informed his field supervisor of a sudden bout of indisposition. He subsequently sought the respite of a bus allocated for worker transport. Post-checks by the supervisor and an HR manager led to the distress call to emergency response services. The day had brought with it sweltering highs in the upper 90s. The heatwave had stretched throughout the week, with a peak heat index of 104 degrees midweek.

In an initial media statement, Barnes Farming could not ascertain a cause of death, however mentioned that an autopsy is being undertaken by state authorities. Corporate attorney, Marie Scott, later updated the statement indicating a profound dedication to their team’s health and well-being, underscoring their vital role within the company and community.

Simultaneously, the company has faced several investigations by the state’s labor branch, focusing on occupational safety and health. Two separate inquiries in 2019 and 2020 that centered around hazardous chemicals and sanitation facilities resulted in full penalties paid by Barnes Farming.

Local nonprofit, Casa Azul de Wilson has spearheaded a funds drive, raising over $10,700 to financially assist Gónzalez Mendoza’s grieving family – a wife and two young children. The organization’s director referred to the farm’s need for accountability to prevent future incidents, highlighting allegations of past unfair worker treatment.

While Barnes Farming has not responded to media requests for comments, they are collaborating with the North Carolina Growers Association to cover cost aspects related to the deceased’s final rites and repatriation back to Mexico.

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