When Modesto Hernandez, 35, walks these days, he grips the curved handle of a brown metal cane to steady himself.
In 2008, Hernandez was pruning rows of raspberry canes in Whatcom County along the northern border. Red raspberries, as a commodity, are valued at $44 million in Washington state. The fields that day were covered with shin-high snow, and Hernandez was wearing rubber boots.
After he complained of losing feeling in his feet, the farmer he was working for provided no real or long-term assistance, he said. A week later, a doctor removed half of both of Hernandez’s feet.
At one point, as thoughts of survival swirled in his head, he told one person: “If you cut your feet off, I’ll put your feet in mine and I’ll go work.”