Top 10 of 2012, #1: Crash in Hampstead
Published Monday, December 31, 2012 6:57PM EST
From now until Dec. 31, CTV Kitchener is counting down the top 10 local stories of 2012. Catch the countdown every night on CTV News at Six.
The death of 11 people, 10 of them migrant workers, in a crash in Hampstead, north of Shakespeare, was the biggest local story of 2012.
Shortly before 5 p.m. on Feb. 6, the workers were on their way home in a 15-passenger van when they were hit by a flatbed truck.
The driver of the truck died at the scene, as did 10 of the van passengers. The passengers were migrant workers who had come to Canada to work and provide for the families in Peru. For some of them, it was their first day on the job and one of their first in Canada.
Police determined the van had just left a nearby poultry farm when the driver of the van went through a stop sign and into the path of the pickup.
It was later found that the driver of the van, David Blancas, did not have a proper license to chauffeur that many passengers.
“Any vehicle that transports more than 11 passengers requires you to hold a minimum of a Class F license. We know that Mr. Blancas, the driver of the passenger van, holds a Class G license,” said OPP Chief Supt. John Cain.
Although the crash occurred on a relatively quiet country road, Rick Sherwood heard it and ran to the scene, hoping to help.
“It was such a small space,” he told CTV.
“You’re trying to figure out who this arm [belongs] to. It’s not because the arm was detached, it was because people were just intertwined.”
Only three of the passengers in the van survived the crash, which was one of the worst in Ontario history.
“We saw the death of all our coworkers around us, we saw the carnage,” said survivor Juan Ariza.
The Ministry of Labour investigated the company that employed the workers and operated the van. They found no evidence of wrongdoing.
No charges were ever laid in the crash.