Ontario van crash victims mourned by friends
Peruvian migrant workers remembered as hard-working, fun-loving
Ten migrant workers killed near Stratford, Ont. on Monday — including a father and son — are being remembered as hard-working and fun-loving people who were trying to build a better life for their families.
"It's not easy because as a father I know, some of them, their kids are waiting back home — their brothers, their parents, their people are waiting for them back in Peru," said Otto Morataya, a musician who was close friends with three of the men.
A group of about 10 mourners set up a memorial Tuesday at the crash site, where 11 people died, in what is thought to be the worst road accident in Ontario's history.
Candles, flowers and streamers of red and white — the colours of the flag of Peru, where all 10 workers are believed to be from — were placed near the intersection in the hamlet of Hampstead, where a 15-seat van carrying the Peruvian workers and a flatbed truck collided.
The driver of the truck, Christopher Fulton, 38, of London, Ont., was also killed and is the only victim identified.
His employer, Speedy Transport CEO Jared Martin, said Fulton was celebrating his 11th wedding anniversary the day of the crash.
Three other passengers in the van survived and are in hospital.
The Peruvian embassy has been flooded with hundreds of calls from people wondering if their loved ones are among the dead.
Fund set up for bereaved families
Although the migrant workers have not yet been identified, many are thinking about the Peruvian families who will soon receive the tragic news.
In the wake of the accident, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada and the Agriculture Workers Alliance have set up a Migrant Workers Family Support Fund to immediately assist the families of the workers who were killed, as well as the families of the injured.
For information on how to donate, click the fund's link.
CBC's Steven D'Souza reported from the crash site that 10 friends set up the memorial at around 5:30 p.m. Two women had partners killed in the crash. One left work at the same time as the victims but in a different vehicle, D'Souza said.
CBC News have started to learn other details about the victims. A father and son were in the van, as well as two brothers. Some of the victims had only arrived from Peru on Friday.
CBC reporter Ivy Cuervo said some friends of the victims are particularly pained that they won't be able to bury them, because they don't have the means to follow the bodies back to Peru.
Morataya told CBC News that, despite a tough job with long hours vaccinating chickens, they liked to laugh and have fun on the weekends. He last saw them on the weekend at a Latin club in Kitchener.
"As soon as they come into the community they are a part of our community," Morataya said.
The men were heading home after a full day at Albert Burgers' poultry farm.
"I really feel sorry for the people back home, because you don't want to get a phone call like that," Burgers said.
The bodies are now at the coroner's office in Toronto. The survivors are in three different hospitals — one in Hamilton, one in London, and one in Stratford.