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Church continues to help

F.T. Norton

Relatives of the victims of a Minden plant explosion are still trying to complete paperwork and raise money they need to travel from Mexico to visit the injured men, according to a church worker helping the family.

Jaime Gonzales, 34; Raul Gonzales, 25; Elias San Juan, 21; Cecilio San Juan, 21 and Susano Lopez were at work Sept. 17 at Depressurized Technologies International Inc. at the Meridian Business Park in Minden when a spark ignited fumes from aerosol cans they were emptying for recycling.

Jaime Gonzales died Tuesday at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas of his injuries. All five men belong to the same extended family.

Josi Graves, Hispanic coordinator for St. Gall Church, recently returned from a visit with the victims who are being treated at University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

She said she has learned from family members that Gonzales is survived by a wife and four children in Mexico. She said he was in the United States only a short time and was sending money home to care for his ill wife.

Graves spearheaded a fundraiser to collect money to help the families who rushed to be by the side of their loved ones while they were hospitalized. So far, St. Gall has raised $2,580. She was relieved to learn all hospital and funeral expenses will be paid by an uninsured workers fund the state has, but hopes people will still contribute to the collection.

“Cecilio’s family wants to come out to be with him,” Graves said, explaining his mother, father and uncle all live in Oaxaca and are working to get passports to travel to the United States. “Even though the medical expenses are covered, these families still have travel expenses.”

She said the family has not told Cecilio about the death of Gonzales, his uncle, so as not to upset him. His parents and uncle have decided to stay in Oaxaca until after Gonzales’ funeral there, then they hope to travel to his side.

Graves said she also believes an attorney from the Mexican Embassy has been appointed to the case by the Mexican government and the League of United Latin American Citizens Reno office has also stepped forward to help the families.

“They are going to make sure their rights are not infringed,” Graves said.

“At this point the families will need traveling money and food, because if they are sitting in the hospital, they aren’t earning any money,” she said.

UC Davis has UC Davis has provided housing for the families at a cost of $15 per day, Graves said.

Donation can be made to the Burn Victims Fund at any Bank of America Branch.

YOU CAN HELP

Donations may be made to help surviving burn victims at any Bank of America, account number 004964151075. The money will be divided evenly among the men.