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JIS News

A Memorial Service will be held tomorrow (Oct. 4) for two Jamaican farm workers who were killed last week in a traffic accident in Ontario, Canada.
The service for 54 year-old William Bell of Sandy River, Clarendon and 39 year-old Desmond McNeil of Lennox Bigwoods in Westmoreland, will take place at Murphy Funeral Home in Delhi, Ontario, from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Mr. McNeil and Mr. Bell were killed on Tuesday, September 27 when they were hit by a motorcar as they rode their bicycles on Highway 59 in Delhi. A third worker, Frederick Smith from Ticky Ticky, Manchester, survived the accident and was released on Friday (Oct. 30) from the London Health Sciences Centre.
John Wright, Chief Liaison Officer at the Jamaica Liaison Service (JLS) in Toronto, the office that oversees the Farm Work Programme in Canada, said the bodies of Bell and McNeil will likely be sent to Jamaica on Wednesday, October 5.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Carl Marshall and Mr. Wright, offered condolences to one of Mr. Bell’s son, Junior and daughter-in-law Arja, at a meeting at the JLS office on Friday.
“The Government of Jamaica is very saddened by the fact that we have lost two of our citizens. We are very sorry about the tragic death and hope that you and the rest of the family will be able to be comforted,” High Commissioner Marshall told the family members.
Following the meeting, the High Commissioner accompanied by Mr. Wright and Dale Jones, Acting Consul General at the Jamaican Consulate General in Toronto, visited the Sung Lee farm, approximately 130 kilometres west of Toronto, where the men worked.
Located in the Simcoe area of Ontario, the farm, owned by the Kwan family, cultivates Chinese winter vegetables, and had eight Jamaican employees.In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Smith, the father of three, said he was thankful to be alive but was mourning the deaths of his friends.
According to a report by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the accident occurred about 7:50 p.m. when the cyclists were struck from behind by a Chrysler Intrepid motorcar. Police are continuing their investigations, but “the 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,” said the report.
The employer, Arthur Kwan, who was still visibly shaken by the incident, described both Bell and McNeil as good persons and valued employees. “They were always thinking about their families back home. William has been around for a long time and was their mentor.” He said McNeil had bought a special gift for his wife the day before the accident.
Jeffrey Taylor, another farm worker, said he was supposed to go with the group because it was his son’s birthday and he wanted to call and wish him “Happy Birthday.” But just as they were ready to go, his employer asked him to spray some vegetables since the weather had gotten cool and that was the best time to do the spraying.
Mr. Smith arrived in Canada on April 15 and was slated to return to Jamaica on December 15. He is expected to return to Jamaica as soon as all statements have been collected.