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Homestead farmworker dies because of extreme heat

Vigil held for Homestead heat-related death victim
Vigil held for Homestead heat-related death victim 02:21

HOMESTEAD - The Farmworker Association of Florida says that 29-year-old Efrain Lopez Garcia is the first Homestead farmworker dead victim of the extreme heat this year and the second one in the state of Florida. 

"It is happening, we are scared because more people are saying they are fainting and feeling the symptoms (of heat stroke)," said Yvette Cruz, Communication Coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida. 

According to Jeremia Lopez, that is exactly what seem to have happened to his brother while working at a farm in Homestead on July 6th. 

"My brother wasn't feeling well, he was weak," told CBS News Miami Lopez who also said the victim did not stop working until his lunch break. 

"My cousin pulled him to a rest area, he then stepped away to get my brother water and when he came back Efrain wasn't there…. they found him a few feet away dead."

"When some of these workers start feeling disoriented, they start walking by themselves and they get lost," said Cruz referring to what seemingly happened to the victim.  

Activists say those who are diabetic, have high blood pressure and work outdoors have a higher likelihood of a heat stroke, the question many people ask: why aren't these farmworkers say something?

"You're kind of scared of even going to take breaks to drink water, to go to the restroom; that's why they need to bring awareness into this problem because he must have been scared, he must have wanted to continue working," said Elena Contreras, Climate Organizer for Farmworker Association of Florida. 

She also said workers fear consequences – if they open their mouth - like lose their job and or not make enough money if they take time off. 

Activists are sounding the alarm about more tragic episodes like Lopez Garcia's passing. 

They are asking for state legislature that can protect these workers, most of them undocumented.

Tuesday the Miami Dade County Commission approved on its first reading the "Que Calor Ordinance – meaning "how hot", which includes worker protections like 10-minute shaded water breaks every two hours on days when the heat index hits 90 degrees.

However, it's not a law yet, it has to be discussed again in September. 

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