In a distressing incident that has resonated deeply within the immigrant community of Nash County, North Carolina, a farm worker originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, lost his life. José Arturo González Mendoza, the identified victim, was working as a temporary laborer at Barnes Farming in Spring Hope when the incident occurred.
According to local organizations, González Mendoza was harvesting sweet potatoes when he informed his field supervisor that he felt unwell. Hoping to rest, he intended to sit on the bus that transported them to the workplace until he felt better. However, when another supervisor came to check on him shortly after, the gravity of the situation became clear, leading to an immediate call for an ambulance.
The specific cause of his tragic death is still under investigation. Officially, no conclusion has been disclosed. However, Casa Azul de Wilson, a local organization, believes that prolonged hours of working under extreme heat and conditions, essentially a heat stroke, is the likely cause.
An outpouring of support and the haunting reality
The company overseeing Barnes Farming expressed their profound grief and sorrow over González Mendoza’s untimely demise. In a gesture of solidarity and support, the North Carolina Producers Association has announced that it will cover the funeral expenses.
Casa Azul de Wilson has set up a verified GoFundMe account, aiming to raise $10,000. The funds will be used to repatriate the remains of the Mexican immigrant back to his hometown in Guanajuato. Shedding light on the matter, a representative stated, “He arrived on August 26 to work at Barnes Farming, harvesting sweet potatoes. Just over a week later, he died from dehydration and heat stress.” The representative poignantly added, “Sadly, this story is all too common and heartbreaking. We’d like to assist his brother and family with the funeral expenses and the repatriation of the body.”
A gaping void left behind
Activists championing the rights of immigrants in the region have highlighted the devastating impact of González Mendoza’s passing on his family. He leaves behind two young children and a wife. As the primary breadwinner, his absence now also signals financial hardship for the bereaved family, emphasizing the necessity of community support during this challenging time.