Truck driver charged with DUI manslaughter in Florida bus crash that kills 8 farmworkers

Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner/USA TODAY NETWORK

Police and firefighters work at the scene of a crash on Highway 40 West in Marion County, Florida, Tuesday.



CNN

The driver of the truck involved in the Tuesday morning crash in north-central Florida that killed eight farm workers and injured at least 40 others has been charged with eight counts of “driving under the influence – manslaughter.” A press release From the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

A 2010 International bus carrying “approximately 53 farm workers” and a 2001 Ford Ranger collided around 6:35 a.m., about 15 miles west of Ocala, the Florida Highway Patrol said in a statement.

The Ford “for unknown reasons traveled toward the center line before the vehicles struck each other,” Lt. Patrick Riordan of the Florida Highway Patrol said during a news conference at the scene. Then the bus left the road and went through the fence and overturned.

Brian McLean Howard, the driver of the Ford Ranger, was arrested Tuesday afternoon, Highway Safety Department Executive Director Dave Kerner said in a statement. CNN has not yet determined whether Howard has an attorney.

Eight people were killed and 45 injured were taken to medical facilities, including eight in critical condition, said James Lucas with Marion County Fire Rescue.

“It could be beyond the eight deaths,” Riordan said, adding that some of the injured, including the driver of the pickup truck, were “in very serious condition.”

“The identities of the deceased are pending further notification of next of kin,” Kerner said in a statement. “Our sympathies and prayers go out to the families of the deceased. Pursuant to our duties, the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct both a thorough and thorough traffic accident and criminal investigation.

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Footage captured by CNN affiliate WESH Riordan pointed to a bus he said was taking workers to a farm in the area — lying on its side in a field, with first responders’ vehicles parked nearby, their lights flashing.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods indicated that authorities believed the bus passengers were migrant workers, telling reporters, “We’re a very big farming country. So this time of year, we always have migrant workers, they’re in our district, they’re on buses like this.

At a news conference Tuesday evening, Juan Sabines, the Mexican consul in Orlando, said all the victims were from Mexico and were in the United States on temporary farm worker visas.

“Please pray for these people,” Sabines said. “We always hear a lot of bad things about immigrants, but actually, these are good people. (They’re) very good, young people.

“They are staying in this country only for work with (a) visa,” he added. “These are very good people, and now they have lost the main support of their families.”

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Woods noted challenges with language barriers, but said bilingual sheriff’s office personnel and support staff help with investigations.

The National Transportation Safety Board is monitoring the situation, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it was also aware of the crash.

“Our sincere thoughts are with the victims, their families and the community as FMCSA evaluates currently available information to support state and local safety officials,” an agency spokeswoman said.

The westbound lanes of Highway 40 will be closed for “most days,” the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. on its Facebook pageMotorists are asked to take alternate routes.

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This is a developing story and will be updated.

CNN’s Ana Melgar Zugina and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

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