After stopping to pick up their paychecks for a week of work, 13 Guatemalan Christmas tree workers were on their way home when a Ford F-350 truck hit the passenger side of the Chevy passenger van they were traveling in.

Three migrant workers died from their injuries in the crash, while several others were injured. One was still in critical condition on Monday.

The crash happened in Marion County at the intersection of Sunnyview Road Northeast and Cordon Road Northeast. The driver of the Chevy van was attempting to make a left turn when the westbound truck crashed into the van. When deputies arrived on scene, they found three of the van passengers dead.

The investigation of the crash could take weeks as the team tries to reconstruct what happened and review available evidence.

The migrant workers were on their way to the home of their labor contractor, Jose Mota Gonzales, to pick up their paychecks. He ran to the scene of the accident and spent the night at the hospital with the crash victims’ families.

Gonzalez said the three deceased workers’ bodies will be flown to Guatemala City to their families.

Oregon Christmas Tree Industry Attracts Many Migrant Workers

The migrants injured and killed in the crash were working in Oregon’s $100-million-dollar Christmas tree industry, which is the largest in the world.

Many of the workers are migrants – in 2018 alone, Marion County had approximately 26,673 migrant and seasonal workers and their families. That is the second-largest migrant population of any county in Oregon.

The accident is a huge blow to the community, particularly people in the Salem area, said Reyna Lopez, the executive director of PCUN, which is an advocacy group for farm workers and Latino families in Oregon.

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Author: Rizk Law

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