Driver Arrested in Fatal Florida Migrant Bus Crash Faces New Charges

Driver Arrested in Fatal Florida Migrant Bus Crash Faces New Charges

Marion County, Fla.- Friday was the second court appearance for Bryan Maclean Howard, the Marion County pickup truck driver accused of killing a bus of Mexican migrant laborers earlier this month.

He now faces 11 DUI with serious bodily injury charges from the state attorney’s office.

Eight DUI manslaughter charges were first filed against Howard, 41. The number of bus crash victims could lead to extra charges, authorities indicated in Howard’s first court appearance last week.

The fresh injuries prompted the state attorney’s office and Marion County Jail log to confirm these allegations. At Friday’s session, Howard told the judge of his legal representation.

On May 14, 53 seasonal migrant workers were on their way to Cannon Farms. At least 40 were injured in the incident, some of whom were taken to local hospitals with critical and non-life-threatening injuries.

The judge granted prosecutors’ request to keep Howard without bond last week owing to his criminal background.

According to the prosecutor, Howard was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident with property damage in 2019, driving with a suspended license in 2013 and 2018, possession of cannabis in 2009, and leaving the scene in 2006. FOX 35 verified many arrests and convictions using Marion County court records.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) said that Howard hit a 2010 retired International school bus carrying 53 farmworkers after 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 14.

Troopers stated his 2001 Ford Ranger crossed the center line and sideswiped the bus on State Road 40, a straight but uphill two-lane road amid horse farms.

According to FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan, the bus toppled after veering off the road, hitting a fence and tree.

The crash killed eight and injured scores, who were transferred to neighboring hospitals. Seven were critically injured, while the others were not. Many admitted have been freed.

Howard was arrested for DUI manslaughter.

Orlando-based Consul Juan Sabines Guerrero told FOX 35 that all eight migrant laborers killed in the collision were Mexican. The oldest casualty was 31 with two young children.

Sabines Guerrero: “It’s one of the worst experiences.” “These individuals are hardworking, not criminals or illegal immigrants. We lost good people in both countries.”

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said the seasonal workers were headed to Cannon Farms. The company’s voicemail said:

“We will be closed due to a horrible accident. Please pray for the families and loved ones lost.”

Migrant laborers spend months away from their families, unlike seasonal workers. They start in Florida with citrus and watermelons and work north. However, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association Director of Labor Relations Jamie Fussel said that they are on a visa.

“The visa is employer-sponsored, so either a farmer or a farm labor contractor, who’s employing them, would start the process,” said Fussel.

H2-A Temporary Agriculture Workers are most prevalent in Florida.

Fewer U.S. workers or citizens desire to work in agriculture or the fields, while Mexicans and Central Americans can earn more. Fussel said they can find jobs they’re used to and proficient at.

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