On Friday, October 13, a tragedy befell refugees in Jacksonville. Ten refugees returning to Jacksonville from their job on the late shift at Pilgrim’s Pride (a chicken processing plant) west of Jacksonville were involved in a fatal accident. Two Burmese refugees were killed and 8 other refugees (seven Burmese and one Bhutanese) were injured, at least two severely. The deceased, both men, leave behind wives and 9 children between them. The accident was caused by a car driving onto I-10 going the wrong direction and crashing into the refugees' van.

Southside Baptist church in Jacksonville, which has a large Burmese Karen congregation and is very involved with the Burmese community, made arrangements for the funeral of Kaw Lay; a local Burmese man loaned funds for the funeral of Tan Nu, which was held on 10/19. Refugee Services' Community Liaison in Jacksonville convened a meeting with the three local refugee resettlement agencies, others involved with the families, and with Southside Baptist Church to ensure that the affected families’ needs are assessed and that there is a coordinated response.

On Thursday, Pilgrim’s Pride (the accident victim’s employer) sent two representatives to Jacksonville and with the help of translators provided by Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services, met with all the affected families to assist with review and paperwork regarding benefits. All but the driver were enrolled in Pilgrim’s health plan.

World Relief, Lutheran Social Services, and Catholic Charities have established a fund for donations to help with funeral expenses and assistance to the families and have asked for donations from those who are able to contribute to the fund. Donations can be made for the refugee accident victims with a credit card on-line at lssjax.org. In comments one can put that the funds are for the Refugee Community Fund or Refugee Accident Victims Fund.  Checks made payable to Lutheran Social Services, c/o Refugee Accident Victims Fund, can be sent to:

Lutheran Social Services
Refugee Accident Victims Fund
4615 Philips Hwy. Jacksonville, FL 32207

We'll provide updates on families affected by this terrible tragedy.