British Columbia

Survivor recalls fatal crash of farmworker van

One of the most seriously injured survivors of a horrific van crash in the Fraser Valley last month is speaking publicly about the tragedy for the first time.

One of the most seriously injured survivors of a horrific van crash in the Fraser Valley last month is speaking publicly about the tragedy for the first time.

Three women died when a van carrying 17 farm workers flipped onto the concrete median along the Trans Canada Highway near Abbotsford on March 7.

Manjit Kaur Rai, 54, said when she opened her eyes, there were other women's bodies on top of her. ((CBC))

Now, Manjit Kaur Rai has told CBC News about the terrifying accident, and what it's done to her life.

Speaking through a translator, she said she had her eyes closed when the van flipped over, because she was praying that morning. Then she felt a big bang.

"I couldn't tell what was going,but I was screaming, 'God help us, God help us.'"

Wiping away tears, the 54-year-old mother said police then smashed through the windows to get her out.

Three women died when the van carrying them to work flipped on Highway 1 near Abbotsford. (CBC)
"There were other women on top of me. They were taken out, and I lifted my head up. Then a policeman came and told me to hold onto his arm."

Rai is now at home, confined to an adjustable bed inher living room, in constant pain from a damaged liver, broken ribs and a metal plate in her broken arm.

She said it will take a year for her to recover and she expects life to be tough.

Rai is a widow supporting two children and came to Canada from India less than two years ago. Her daughter was also hurt in the crash.

She cannot work, and said she doesn't know how she will be able to support her family.

"To us, what's important is that we beable to run our household. Everything depended on me. I can't work now and my daughter can't either. We're worried about the bills."

Rai wants the provincial government to make sure she's compensated for her pain and suffering.

Police say there were only two seatbelts in the van. An inquest has been ordered, and the crash is still under investigation.

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