BREAKING NEWS 2 teens identified in Franklin Lock Park drowning

6 bus crash victims identified; Immokalee community mourns loss

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Elyssa Morataya
Published: Updated:

Eight Mexican migrant farmworkers’ lives were cut short in an instant during a bus crash in Central Florida, and now we know who at least six of them were.

The six victims that have been identified in the Tuesday crash are Evardo Ventura Hernandez, Cristian Salazar Villeda, Alfredo Tovar Sanchez, Isaias Miranda Pascal, Jose Heriberto Fraga Acosta and Manuel Perez Rios.

“We have had the reaction of one of the widows’ wives now, who cannot come to terms with the fact that her husband is no longer here because he came to seek a better life for her and her children,” said Lucas Benitez, co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Around 40 other workers are now in the hospital.

“Most, if not maybe 100% of the workers on that bus are from Mexico,” said Benitez.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers said all 53 workers were on temporary H-2A visas and staying in Gainesville.

“They only come for a season of between six months and eight months maximum,” said Benitez.

This brings up another sad reality for those affected by the bus crash.

“The workers who are still in the hospital or those who are recovering at home already are alone,” said Benitez. “They do not have the support of any family member, no one close to them.”

While the workers involved in this crash may not be Immokalee locals, Benitez said they likely spent some time down there.

“Immokalee is the heart of the agricultural industry,” said Benitez. “It’s possible that these people maybe spent a few days here in Immokalee.”

Either way, this community feels their loss.

“We are human beings. We are harvesting your fruits and vegetables so that you can take them to your table and enjoy them,” said Benitez. “Many times you have to pay with your life, such as this accident, so that the American people have food to eat.”

WINK News reporter Amy Galo reached out to the owner of Olvera Trucking Harvesting Corporation, the owner of the bus, which is based in Immokalee, for comment. He asked that we please respect his privacy during this time.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.