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JIS News

Acting Consul General to Toronto, Dale Jones has hailed William Bell and Desmond McNeil, the farm workers, who died recently in Canada, as hardworking men who deserved “our greatest respect”.
“These two men are sadly missed by their families, friends, employers and all of us. As we mourn their passing, we also celebrate their lives. Let us remember how good they have been and the great things they have done,” Mr. Jones said, as he addressed a memorial service for the men held yesterday (Oct. 4) at the Murphy Funeral Home in Delhi, Ontario.
A gathering of family, friends, co-workers, employers and government officials, came out to pay their respects to the men, whose bodies are being shipped to Jamaica today for burial.
Fifty-four year-old William Bell, a resident of Sandy River, Clarendon and Desmond McNeil, 39-year-old of Lennox Bigwoods, Westmoreland, were killed on Tuesday, September 27 when they were hit by a Chrysler Intrepid motorcar as they rode their bicycles on Highway 59 in Delhi, Ontario, near Brantford.
A third worker, Frederick Smith from Ticky Ticky, Manchester, who survived the accident, was released from the London Health Sciences Centre on Friday (Sept. 30), but has since been admitted to Tillsonburg Hospital to recuperate. Mr. Smith, who attended the memorial service, was overcome with grief and was taken back to the hospital.
John Wright, Chief Liaison Officer at the Jamaica Liaison Service (JLS), which oversees the Farm Work Programme in Canada, said that the hardest thing he had ever done, was to call the spouses of the deceased men.
“It was extremely difficult for me to call that night. When I spoke to Mrs. Bell I could feel the grief coming through the telephone line and when I spoke to Mrs. McNeil it was the same thing,” he told JIS News. Mr. Wright said everyone was saddened by the loss of these “two great ambassadors of Jamaica.”
The employer, Arthur Kwan, said he had the privilege and honour of working with the men. He described Mr. Bell, who was nicknamed ‘Popeye’, as a diligent person, who worked to provide for his family.
Family friend Carmen Sinclair noted Mr. McNeil loved his family very much and had just ordered the first bricks for the house he was building. She sang ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ in tribute to her late friend.Keturah Pinnock, Mr. Bell’s sister-in-law, spoke on behalf of the family and said “he really took care of his wife and children”. She also sang ‘What A Sunrise It’s Going To Be.’
Ken Forth, President of the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), which administers Ontario’s Migrant Worker Programme, expressed sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased. Mr. Forth, who has been employing Jamaican workers on his farm for the past 35 years, said the workers “become a part of your extended family.”
Constable Mark Foster of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Media Relations Unit, informed JIS News that the accident was still being investigated and as soon as there were new developments a release would be issued.
An earlier police report noted that “speed of the motor vehicle and no lights or reflectors on the bicycles are being considered as contributing factors in the cause of this collision.”