State L & I Office Launches Probe Into Sudden Death Of Mexican Berry Picker At Sumas, WA Blueberry Farm
August 10, 2017
(SUMAS, WA.) -- Washington State's Labor and Industries (L&I) department started an investigation Wednesday into a Sumas blueberry farm in order to determine if any workplace conditions caused the death of a temporary worker who died Monday.
Honesto Silva Ibarra, 28, a father of three from Mexico went to a Bellingham clinic complaining of headaches after picking berries at Sarbanand Farms, according to Cascadiaweekly.com.
Ibarra collapsed and was later flown to Harborview Medical Center, where he died Monday. Tim Church, a spokesman for L & I told the Seattle Times the agency has opened two separate investigations, one into workplace safety with health inspection and the other into employment standards.
The first probe into workplace safety, which could take months to complete, will determine if “this was a workplace-related death and, if so, how.”
On Wednesday Cascadiaweekly.com reported that other workers at the blueberry farm believe that unsafe working conditions contributed to the death of their coworker.
The report also noted that the blueberry farm abruptly fired more than 100 migrant farm workers on Sat., August 5th. Why they were fired was unclear. A Sarbanand Farms representatives declined to comment on the incident, accordion to the Cascadia Weekly report found here .
The story says an investigator at the King County Medical Examiner’s office said Ibarra’s collapse was not under investigation, "indicating the office did not find the death to be suspicious."
However, "Many of the farm workers believe inadequate food, high temperatures, smoke from nearby wildfires and lack of access to health care contributed to Ibarra’s death," according to Cascadia Weekly.