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Florida crash leaves 8 farm workers dead, driver blames marijuana oil and medication

Florida man facing DUI manslaughter charges after sideswiping bus carrying migrant workers

A horrific tragedy unfolded in Marion County, Florida, when a head-on collision between a pickup truck and a farm worker bus claimed the lives of eight Mexican migrant workers. The 41-year-old driver of the truck, Bryan Maclean Howard, is facing eight counts of DUI manslaughter after admitting to troopers that he had consumed marijuana oil and prescription medication just hours before the crash. Continue reading this news to get more details on the crash.

Head-on crash claims lives of eight migrant workers

The incident occurred on Tuesday morning as a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck, driven by Howard, struck a bus carrying over 40 H-2A visa-holding workers to a watermelon farm. The H-2A visa program is a federal initiative that allows foreign workers to fill temporary agricultural jobs in the United States. These workers play a vital role in Florida's agricultural industry, particularly during harvest seasons for crops like watermelon. The impact caused the bus to careen off the road, crash through two fences, and ultimately overturn.

Eight passengers on the bus tragically lost their lives in the accident. Officials have confirmed the identities of six of the deceased: Evarado Ventura Hernández (30), Cristian Salazar Villeda (24), Alfredo Tovar Sánchez (20), Isaías Miranda Pascal (21), José Heriberto Fraga Acosta (27), and Manuel Pérez Ríos (46). Dozens of other passengers sustained injuries and remained hospitalized at the time of this report.

According to an arrest report obtained by The Associated Press, troopers arriving at the scene noted that Howard displayed bloodshot and watery eyes, along with slurred speech. During questioning at the hospital, Howard reportedly confessed to consuming marijuana oil and taking medication for high blood pressure and seizures the night before the crash. He further stated that he woke up roughly five hours before the accident and was driving to a methadone clinic for his daily medication prescribed for a back injury.

A plane crashed in a field after being struck by lightning.

Troubled driving history raises concerns

The report also revealed a troubling history for Howard behind the wheel. Marion County court records detail at least three prior crashes and numerous traffic violations dating back to 2006. Notably, a previous offense involved crossing the center line, mirroring the act that led to the fatal collision.

Howard's license has been suspended on three separate occasions, with the most recent suspension occurring in 2021 due to accumulating excessive citations within one year. Court documents additionally confirm a 2013 grand theft conviction and a subsequent probation revocation in 2014 after a positive cocaine test.

The devastating crash has left a community in mourning. The sudden loss of these eight individuals, who were in the United States to provide for their families, is a stark reminder of the risks faced by migrant workers. As the investigation progresses, authorities will delve deeper into the cause of the crash, with Howard's alleged use of marijuana oil and prescription medication a central focus.

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