By Connor Lynch
FLAMBOROUGH — It was a harrowing ordeal for a potato farm worker in Flamborough, just west of Hamilton.
The 62-year-old Mexican migrant worker, Jesus Flores, had both legs amputated above the knee at Hamilton General Hospital, after being stuck in a potato conveyor for two hours.
The worker at Brenn-B Farms Ltd., a fourth-generation family farm, got stuck in the potato machine on the morning of Nov. 3. A trauma team was called to assist the emergency responders in the hopes of saving Flores’ legs. According to Hamilton’s supervisor of paramedic operations, Dave Johnson, it’s extremely rare for a trauma team, that included a trauma surgeon, to have to be sent to the scene.
“I can count on one hand the number of times a trauma team had to be sent,” the 36-year paramedic veteran told Farmers Forum.
Flores was conscious when he was brought to hospital and was still in hospital as of Nov. 29. He likely won’t be able to return to Mexico until the spring, according to a spokesperson for a migrant worker support group who’s been in touch with the family.
The Ministry of Labour’s investigation is ongoing.
Shawn Brenn, who co-owns the farm with his brother Chris, told the Flamborough Review that Flores has been working for the farm for 15 years. “It’s a tough situation — I don’t know how else to put it,” he said.
As a migrant worker, Flores will have his medical expenses paid for by the Workplace Safety Insurance Board. The migrant support group, Migrants Matter, a local organization out of the community church in Flamborough, is currently raising money to bring Flores’ family up from Mexico, and to cover their accommodation and daily expenses.
Email Migrants Matter co-ordinator Terry Hubbard about making a donation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another worker was injured in a separate accident on a potato farm in October. A local worker, 41-year-old Leif Smith, had his legs trapped in a potato combine after falling in. Smith, who works at Downey Potato Farms, a half-hour north of Orangeville, was trapped in the combine for at least 40 minutes. Initial reports from police suggested that Smith could lose one or both legs. According to a spokesperson from the farm, Smith did not have either leg amputated, was released from hospital and was recovering at home.