8 Killed In Florida Bus Crash

(Cupventi.com) – In a tragic incident early Tuesday morning, a severe collision on State Route 40 in Florida resulted in the deaths of eight individuals and left several others critically injured. The accident involved a bus filled with 53 laborers heading to Cannon Farms, a watermelon farm located approximately 20 miles outside of Ocala, and a Ford Ranger pickup truck.

According to reports from the Florida Highway Patrol, the bus was traveling westbound when the Ford Ranger, moving in the opposite direction, veered into its lane, causing a sideswipe collision. The impact forced the bus off the road where it struck a fence and two trees before overturning. Among the passengers, eight were pronounced dead at the scene, eight suffered critical injuries, 10 had serious injuries, and at least 25 others sustained minor wounds. Roughly 40 individuals were transported to various hospitals, with officials cautioning that the death toll might rise given the severity of some of the injuries.

The driver of the Ford Ranger, identified as 40-year-old Bryan Maclean Howard, was arrested and charged with eight counts of DUI-manslaughter. Marion County records reveal Howard’s history of traffic-related offenses spanning from 2004 to 2019, including careless driving and DUI charges, among others. At the time of his arrest, he was receiving medical treatment at a local hospital.

The sheriff of Marion County, Billy Woods, expressed his deep sorrow over the accident, acknowledging the hardworking nature of the bus passengers. “My heart goes out to them,” Sheriff Woods stated, emphasizing the ongoing efforts of local authorities to assist the victims and their families, including facilitating communication with non-English speaking relatives.

This devastating incident highlights the ongoing risks faced by farmworkers in the United States. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, transportation accidents remain the leading cause of death among farmworkers, including both roadway incidents and other vehicle-related accidents on farms.

The crash has prompted calls for increased safety measures for farmworkers. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has urged Florida to enhance protective regulations for these essential workers. Domingo Garcia, President of LULAC, emphasized the vital role farmworkers play in supporting both state and national economies. “They are the ones who put the food on our tables and nourish the state and our country. It is too easy to dismiss this as just another accident,” Garcia said.

Julie Taylor, Executive Director of the National Farm Worker Ministry, also voiced concern over the broader impacts of such accidents on farmworkers and their families. Many, she noted, lack health insurance, and injuries sustained in such incidents can leave families without financial support due to lost wages.