Hamilton

'So tragic:' farm worker from Mexico killed in hit-and-run, police search for truck

A mother of two, who was working at a Niagara-on-the-Lake fruit farm, is dead after a hit-and-run crash Saturday.

Fundraiser for family has already collected more than $16K

Zenaida, a woman from Mexico working in Niagara-on-the-Lake was killed after a hit-and-run on Aug. 17. (Wilfred Bout/GoFundMe)

A Mexican mother of two is dead after a hit-and-run crash in the Niagara area Saturday.

The woman was a worker at a Niagara-on-the-Lake fruit farm. Her first name was Zenaida, according to Wilfred Bout, a pastoral worker who has been active in the migrant community for years and started a GoFundMe campaign for her family.

Her two young daughters, ages seven and eleven, are now without a mother, he added.

"She was here basically to put bread on the table for her daughters and to help her parents financially," said Bout. "Everybody feels it very, very deeply."

The woman's full name is not being released at the request of her family, says Niagara police spokesperson Stephanie Sabourin. People in the Niagara area who knew Zenaida say they don't want to release her last name because of concerns the family could be extorted for the money from the fundraiser.

The service did confirm the woman, who was hit by a pickup truck near the corner of Concession 7 and Line 6 Roads just before 11 p.m., was a Mexican national working on a local farm.

Investigators say the 33-year-old suffered critical injuries and later died in hospital.

The truck did not stop, say police. It was last seen heading south down Concession 7 Road.

A spokesperson for the Consulate of Mexico in Toronto said Zenaida was working in the Niagara region as part of the Mexico-Canada Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.

"The Consulate General of Mexico expresses its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased Mexican worker and continues to provide assistance to the them," wrote Scarlett Navarro in an email.

Officials looking for Dodge pickup

Police are asking collision repair centres and members of the public to keep an eye out for a dark coloured Dodge Ram pickup truck, with a model year between 2010 and 2020, that's missing its passenger-side mirror.

Bout says he stayed with Zenaida in hospital until she died and later spoke with her loved ones by phone to share some details from her final hours.

"It was very difficult for them to receive this news," Bout said, describing the collision as a "double tragedy."

"Not only was it a hit and a fatality, but it was a hit-and-run, which just makes it so much worse," he added.

'It's a pretty low thing'

Phil Tregunno, one of the owners of the farm where Zenaida worked for the past two growing seasons, echoed the same sentiment.

"A lot of the rural roads are narrow. They're dark, but even if an accident happens, someone doing a hit-and-run, it's a pretty low thing to hit somebody then still take off," he said.

"Even if they catch this person it's not going to bring Zeneida back. But I think the decent thing to do is turn yourself in."

Tregunno described Zenaida as someone who was very personable, eager and likeable.

He said her death has hit the migrant worker community in the area hard because a sudden tragedy like this makes them think about what would happen to their loved ones if they were to suddenly be killed in Canada.

"Everybody is up here trying to help their families back home," said the farmer. "It's just so tragic and such a waste."

The fundraiser Bout started has only been online for one day, but it has already soared past its $10,000-goal, hitting more than $16,000 as of midday Wednesday.

He says the money will be used to cover transportation and funeral costs. It will also help Zenaida's grandparents raise the two girls and cover some of their education costs.

Tregunno said he's not surprised by the overwhelming response so far.

"The farming community, the local Niagara-on-the-Lake people, they're very supportive of the workers that come into the area. It's just a reflection of just how good people can be."

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