BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — 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.