Activist killed after being struck by vehicle during Burlington pig plant protest

A animal activist protest in Burlington has turned deadly after Halton police say a vehicle struck and killed one of the activists.

Video shows protestors by pigs stuck in trucks entering the slaughterhouse

A animal activist protest in Burlington has turned deadly after Halton police say a vehicle struck and killed one of the activists. 0:54

An animal activist protest in Burlington has turned deadly after Halton police say a vehicle struck and killed one of the activists.

The fatal accident happened Friday morning at the Fearman's Pork Inc., meat processing plant on  Harvester Road, between Appleby Line and South Service Road.

Halton police said the victim was a woman in her 60s. They have sent their victims services unit to the scene. Toronto Pig Save said the victim was a "fiercely devoted activist" to this and many other causes.

The plant has long been a location for animal rights protesters to gather at the entrance gate and who often give water to the pigs in the trucks waiting to get into the plant. The woman had been a regular protester there, said the group.

Video viewed by CBC News shows activists from Toronto Pig Save at a planned protest outside the facility at roughly 10 a.m. In the video, demonstrators show the pigs inside the metal trailers attached hauled by trucks entering the slaughterhouse.

More video appears to show the victim lying beneath one of the trucks.

The group's co-founder, Anita Krajnc ​​​​​, who was not there when it happened, told CBC News a witness at the scene told her the victim was standing in front of the truck when she was hit and killed.

Krajnc, who had just arrived at the scene, said that people were in a "state of shock" and were crying. People were arriving and bringing flowers. A candlelight vigil is planned for Friday evening at the site.

Krajnc has also often protested at the location. She was charged with mischief for giving water to pigs entering the facility, but was found not guilty after a high profile trial in 2017.

She did not identify the victim but described her as a "very kind and compassionate person," who had been an activist for years. She said her passions included animals, veganism, climate change, and human rights. 

"She was here on this scorching hot day, showing compassion to these pigs," she said, and referenced the death of Jill Phipps, who was killed in 1995 while protesting veal exports.

"This is 25 years later. This day and age, you would want people to respect animal activists for their right to protest in safety." 

Krajnc's friend, Stephanie Schwartz also described the victim as a passionate person.

"She was committed for her whole life to animals," she said. "She was the most peaceful, logical, kind, compassionate person that I've ever met. She just stuck up for the vulnerable...we need more people like that, it's terrible."

Krajnc said that the victim's family and partner were being informed.

The activist group made an appeal online, asking members to bring candles to the scene due to a "serious incident." 

The group will be there "all day and night" to remember the victim. The group is also asking that the pigs in the truck be transported to a sanctuary in the victim's honour. 

"Just know what a beautiful person she was," Krajnc said.  

Sofina Foods the parent company for the plant, issued a statement Friday afternoon.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individual and her family. This is a tragedy and we extend our sincere condolences to them," wrote Daniele Dufour, the company's Senior Director, Communications, Public Relations and Consumer Inquiries.

"We also recognize the impact that this event had on our employees and have been providing support to them in these very difficult times."  

Police said the collision reconstruction unit will be investigating on scene for several hours.