Farm worker who died in accident was in country illegally


The York Township farm worker who died last week has been identified.
According to a release from the Union County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement and federal officials identified Josue Adan Mezhua Hernandez, 24, of Zongolica, Mexico, as the worker who died after falling off a ladder at New Day Farms on Powder-Lick Road Aug. 8.
Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton said his office has worked closely with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI over the last week attempting to identify Hernandez.
“We have to get it right the first time for the sake of the family when making notifications, we can’t undo telling a family their loved one is deceased, if it really wasn’t them,” said Patton. “Hernandez was working in the country illegally.”
He added the primary reason for the difficulty in identifying Hernandez was that he had several aliases connected to his name.
“The company he worked for had a specific name on paper and when we checked that, we weren’t getting anything back,” Patton said. “We also had his prints checked and there was nothing in the database.”
Patton said the Sheriff’s Office was in contact with ICE during the entire process, which is how they found Hernandez was an undocumented worker.
“Our investigators and Coroner’s Office did a good job following up with these federal agencies and that’s how we’re able to get it done fairly quickly,” said Patton.
Investigators worked with family members in the surrounding area for next of kin notification. Agencies found a relative in a nearby county that could identify Hernandez through passport information, Patton said.
Hernandez was scheduled to be flown back to Mexico Thursday for the funeral services.
“Our part here is pretty much done,” Patton said. “OSHAA may still be looking into the fall.”
The Journal-Tribune reached out to New Day Farms but representatives from the company were not available for comment.

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