Beach community rallies for family of drowning victim
WINDSOR, ONT. -- It’s a day Joe Fernandez will never forget.
“He’s with God now, and God bless him,” he said.
Around 4 p.m., on July 12, Chatham OPP responded to a possible drowning on Lake Erie near Wheatley Provincial Park.
“The first thing we did, Jeff grabbed the life jacket and ran into the water,” says Fernandez, who also tried to save the man whose life was in danger.
“Five, ten minutes, we’re all in the water trying to look for him,” he said.
After bringing him back to shore, the man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“Another minute and we probably would’ve got to him, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case,” says Fernandez.
The victim was identified by police on Thursday as Santos Cuc Diaz, 28, of the Republic of Guatemala.
According to the victim’s employer, he was a migrant worker.
“He was great at saving his money and he built two houses in Guatemala. One for his parents and one for his family,” says Kevin Sawatzky, manager of N Sawatzky Farms.
Diaz spent the last four years working at the greenhouse, and most recently helped create a safe working environment under the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Five hours every day, disinfecting surfaces, door handles, everything,” Sawatzky explains.
The drowning has spurred residents at Holiday Harbour to help the victim’s family.
They’ve donated more than $3,300.
“These guys come here to make a living, they work hard. Without them, these farmers wouldn’t be where they are today,” Fernandez tells CTV Windsor.
A tribute for the Diaz is planned for Sunday, at Wheatley Provincial Park.