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Suspected Heat Related Farm Worker Deaths: July 2004-July 2008

Six farm workers deaths are being or have been investigated because of heat-related causes since May. This brings to 15 the number of farm workers whose death have been investigated as heat-related since California Governor Schwarzenegger took office.


August 2, 2008: Maria de Jesus Alvarez, 63, mother of nine, had been picking table grapes for Anthony Vineyards and was employed through farm labor contractor Manuel Torres during the afternoon of July 15. She began feeling ill and went home. According to witnesses, she was working in a crew of 150 workers and they had no shade nor had they received training in heat stroke prevention and precautions as mandated by state law. After her condition deteriorated, Alvarez was taken to a hospital on July 19. The doctor determined she was severely dehydrated and had suffered heat stroke. After being treated and admitted by two different hospitals, Alvarez died on Aug. 2.

July 31, 2008: Jorge Herrera, 37, father of two, died on July 31. Herrera worked for a labor contractor and was loading table grapes when he passed out July 10 and was taken to the hospital. His core body temperature was 108 degrees, the same as the high temperature reported that day by the National Weather Service.

July 9, 2008 Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez, 48, father of two, died in Selma, CA on Thursday afternoon after working all day for Sun Valley Packing in Reedley thru a farm labor contractor. Ramiro had complained being sick from the heat. He was taken home by his foreman. He passed out almost as soon as he got in the house. By the time an ambulance got there he was dead on arrival. He leaves behind two children ages 13 and 16.

July 9, 2008 Abdon Felix Garcia, 42, father of three, died on Wednesday after spending the morning and early afternoon working for Sunview Vineyards in Arvin. The coroner says Felix’s body core temperature was measured at 108 degrees just 13 minutes before his death.

June 20, 2008 Jose Macarena Hernandez, 64, died during a record-breaking heat wave on June 20 while harvesting butternut squash in Santa Maria on land owned by Sunrise Growers.

May 14, 2008 Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, Stockton, while laboring in the Stockton area grape vines.  She was working for Merced Farm Labor in vineyard owned by West Coast Grape Farming.


May 9, 2007 Eladio Hernandez, 54, was working for the farm labor contractor YNT Harvesting at Hillside Orchards on May 9. The orchard is located just outside of Kettleman City in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The company was fined by CAL-OSHA for violating heat stress regulation; coroner report inconclusive.


July 27, 2006 Richard Helmuth (employer: CNK Ranch) heat-related, cause of death: heat stroke

July 26, 2006 Rodolfo Valladares (employer: Stemoules Produce) heat-related, cause of death: heat stroke
July 26, 2006 David Vraggs (employer: George Perry and Sons) heat-related, cause of death: hyperthermia


July 13, 2005 Salud Zamudio Rodriguez, 42, was stricken while laboring on, 2005 during a speed-up in a bell pepper field near Arvin.

July 14, 2005 Ramon Hernandez’s body was found in a melon field near Huron.

July 21, 2005 Augustine Gudino was discovered on July 21, 2005 in a table grape vineyard owned by Giumarra Vineyards.

July 31, 2005 Constantino Cruz Hernandez, 24, died in a Delano hospital. He collapsed from the heat during a speed-up in a tomato field near Shafter on July 21, 2005.


July, 28, 2004 On July 28, 2004, Asuncion Valdivia, 53, died from exposure to extreme heat after 10 hours picking table grapes at Giumarra vineyards in Kern County during temperatures more than 100 degrees.