Wheatley community members are coming together after the sudden death of 28-year-old Santos Cuc Diaz last month, to offer emotional and financial support for his grieving coworkers and family.
"Any time you lose somebody that's part of your team, your family, it's tough," Sawatzky Farms Inc. manager Kevin Sawatzky told CBC News.
Diaz, who came to work in Canada from Guatemala, had been working at Sawatzky Farms when he drowned in Lake Erie near Wheatley Provincial Park on July 12.
Police said Diaz was under water for about 10 minutes before being pulled out. CPR was conducted and he was transported to hospital by ambulance but pronounced dead at the hospital.
Since Diaz's death, Sawatzky said the company has partnered with the local health unit to provide virtual counselling for some workers. He said they also held a physically distanced dinner with the workers to bring them together during this hard time.
"We're checking in with them constantly, it's the least we can do," Sawatzky said, adding that his company is also paying for the funeral and costs associated with shipping Diaz's body back home.
Tribute draws 70 people
Sawatzky said he also attended a gathering for Diaz held at Holiday Harbour on Sunday. The tribute, attended by about 70 people, was organized by Joe Fernandes who built a cross and sign in memory of Diaz.
Fernandes, who was staying at the Holiday Harbour trailer park at the time, said he was present the day that Diaz drowned and, with the help of others, tried to save him.
"We heard some screaming and yelling, we didn't know what was going on," Fernandes said. "About five of us ran into the water and we seen the gentlemen looking for help. By the time we got there into the water, we got about 25 feet away from him and it was just a little too late, he had gone down."
When Fernandes later heard that Diaz had a wife and children back home, he said he knew he had to do something to help them.
"I just felt bad for the family...I said you know what I'm going to start something, raise some money for that family," he said, adding he decided to sell raffle tickets.
In just three weeks, he said $3,355 was raised and sent to Guatemala.
"I know these people come here to work five, six months and they work hard to take some money back to keep the family going," he said. "I feel like just terrible, I still have tears in my eyes talking about it...[his wife has] a little bit of money to help her out...hopefully they'll do okay."