La prensa

Rebuilding Shattered Lives

Created: 22 January, 2010
Updated: 26 July, 2022
2 min read

Frontera NorteSur

A group of migrant farm-workers and their relatives is attempting to pick up the pieces of their lives after a deadly crash along the Mexico-US border. Early on the morning of January 2, a bus carrying 34 agricultural laborers and family members veered off a cliff near the settlement of La Rumorosa on the Tecate-Mexicali highway. Fourteen persons were killed and 21 others injured.

The passengers were reportedly enroute to a tomato farm near Culiacan, Sinaloa, after working the winter vegetable harvest in San Quintin, Baja California.

“Initially, we were told it was two buses and we mobilized firefighters, civil protection, the army, and police from Tecate, Tijuana and Mexicali, said Rene Rosado, director of Mexicali’s civil protection department. “We later realized it was one bus cut in half.”

Preliminary reports suggested faulty brakes or excessive speed could have been the cause of the tragedy.  Within two days, seven of the 14 killed passengers were identified: Mario Pinacho, 50; Roberto Carerra Hernandez, 25; Antonio Ibarra Fuerte, 19; Helcega Ramirez Velazquez, 24;  Dario Ordonez, 5; Alejandro Lopez, 40; and Asuncion Velasco Macias, 42.

Of the 21 injured persons, 10 were quickly released from Mexicali’s General Hospital. Three of the injured, including one child, sustained critical injuries.

Despite a pledge by Baja California state human rights ombudsman Heriberto Garcia Garcia to make sure officials duly attended victims and family members, relatives gathered at General Hospital told the press they did not know how expenses would be met. Consequently, some relatives were reported soliciting donations from other members of the public at the hospital.

Unidentified officials were quoted as saying that relatives declined an offer of assistance from a local shelter out of preference to remain in the hospital with loved ones. Later, fifteen adults and children were lodged at a church shelter. Some victims lost all their belongings in the crash, including personal identification documents.

The January 2 tragedy was the latest calamity to befall migrants who work the winter vegetable harvest circuit in northern Mexico. In addition to insecure transportation, incidents have included pesticide poisonings, on-the-job accidents and other problems. In the coastal zone of Baja California alone, an estimated 30,000 seasonal workers are employed in an industry that is geared to the US export market.

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Mexican officials are still investigating the cause of the accident as well as the ownership of the bus that plunged off the cliffs of La Rumorosa.

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces,New Mexico.

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