Local

Mom of farmworker killed in Marion County bus crash pleads for safe return of son’s body

APOPKA, Fla. — The Farmworker’s Association of Florida came together with people Wednesday night to honor the eight migrant workers who died in Ocala this week.

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“Our hearts are heavy with grief and our souls are burdened with sorrow,” said Bishop David Maldonaldo. " Let this tragedy then serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing and protecting the lives of all workers regardless of their background or status.”

Troopers said a man under the influence hit the bus they were on, killing them and leaving dozens of others hurt. It all happened early Tuesday morning while the group was on their way to work.

Read: Farmworker’s Association mourns lives lost in Marion County bus crash at local vigil

The seven men and one woman who died moved here from Mexico through the H2A program -- a temporary work visa specifically for agriculture workers. They were between the ages of 18 and 31 years old.

Twenty-four-year-old Cristian Dora was among them. He had just moved to Florida 15 days ago to work in watermelon production.

Dora’s mother, Santos del Carmen Viera Moreno told Channel 9 that he was a beautiful person who never asked for anyone’s help and always gave a hand when he could.

Read: Orlando’s Mexican Consulate seeks information about Marion County bus crash victims

She said the whole reason her son came here was to make money to send back to his wife and 5-year-old daughter. She said she felt pride over the person he was and how badly he wanted to succeed.

Now, she’s desperately waiting for answers over how to bring her son’s body back to the state of Hidalgo.

Juan Sabines Guerrero with the Mexican Consulate of Orlando said if the migrant’s employer won’t cover the medical and funeral costs of victims, he will help find money to foot the bill.

Read: Deadly Marion County bus crash: How to help the victims

“Yes, the government of Mexico will do it,” said Guerrero.

The Farmworker’s Association of Florida is also gathering funds to help the victims’ families that are impacted by the crash. They are hoping to raise at least $80,000 – $10,000 for each victim.

“Whenever you eat, please remember that that’s the product of very hard work by groups of people who are in vulnerable conditions and we should be thankful that we have that we should be grateful for it and we should be grateful for the people who produce it for us,” said Ernesto Luis with the Farmworker’s Association of Florida.

If you would like to help them with their cause, click here.

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