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Driver arrested on DUI charges after colliding with farmworker bus, killing 8 people in Florida

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The police in Florida arrested the driver of a pickup truck for crashing into a bus and killing eight people. They arrested him for driving while drunk and causing the deaths.

Bryan Maclean Howard, who is 41 years old, is charged with eight counts of DUI-Manslaughter, according to the FHP. No more information was given, including what substance is said to have made Howard unable to function normally.

Police said he was driving a 2001 Ford Ranger when it went into the opposite lane on State Road 40, a straight but hilly road with two lanes that goes past horse farms. The truck hit the side of the bus, making it go off the road at 6:40 in the morning. It broke a fence and hit a tree, then flipped over. Eight people died and at least 40 people were hurt.

It is not known if Howard has a lawyer. And we couldn’t find any phone numbers for his family. State records show that Howard has been arrested before for driving without a valid license, running away from an accident, and having marijuana.

The crash occurred in Marion County, which is about 80 miles north of Orlando. The workers were going to Cannon Farms in Dunellon, where they pick watermelons. The bus tipped over and its windows were broken. The back door and top hatch were open. The truck stopped at the side of the road. The air bag was blown and there was a lot of damage to the driver’s side.

In 2022, more farmworkers died in vehicle crashes than from any other job-related cause. They made up 81 out of 171 deaths. It wasn’t clear if the bus had seat belts right away.

Many states want to make stricter rules to keep farmworkers safe. Most of the workers are migrants. We don’t know if all the workers on the bus were from another country.

The Labor Department made new rules for seat belts in vehicles used by farmworkers on temporary visas. The rules also include other protections for workers, and they start on June 28. The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association does not agree with the seatbelt rule because they think it is not practical.

In the state, farmworkers must use seatbelts while riding in small vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds.

“We are closed today to show respect for the losses and injuries from the accident at Olvera Trucking Harvesting Corp. this morning,” Cannon Farms posted on Facebook. “Please join us in saying a prayer for the families and loved ones affected by this terrible accident. ” We thank you for understanding during this tough time.

Cannon Farms is a farm run by a family for over 100 years. The company now sells peanuts and watermelons to grocery stores all over the U. SCanada and the United States are two neighboring countries.

No one picked up the phone when it rang at Olvera Trucking on Tuesday afternoon. The company put out a job posting for a driver to take workers to the watermelon fields for a short time. The driver would then use farming machines to collect crops. The pay was $14.77 for each hour worked.

Olvera asked the Labor Department for permission to hire 43 workers to pick watermelons at Cannon Farms. The company offered to pay $14.77 per hour and also promised to provide housing and transportation to the fields.

The H-2A program lets US employers or agents bring in foreign workers to fill temporary agricultural jobs, as long as they meet certain rules. Florida farms hire more H-2A workers than any other state. They hire about 50,000 workers every year, according to the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.

Andres Segura, who works at AdventHealth hospitals, said that the injured workers were in good moods despite their injuries and were being visited by chaplains.

“We were able to be there and give help and prayers when it was needed,” he said.

The Farmworker Association of Florida is helping accident victims and their families by raising money through a GoFundMe campaign. So far, they have raised $5,000 out of their $50,000 goal.

“The post said that it’s important to remember farmworkers, especially during hard times, even though they are often overlooked. ”

Two organizations that support farmworkers have asked for tougher rules to keep them safe from danger.

“It’s too easy to think of this as just another accident,” said Asia Clermont, who leads the League of United Latin American Citizens in Florida. Florida needs to do everything it can to keep its essential workers safe. They are people who are very important for the state’s economy.

Ty Joplin from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers said that the rules about transportation for farmworkers are usually not followed.

“Accidents can happen, but we can protect workers by making sure they have safety measures like seat belts and regular safety checks while they are being transported. This can help lower the number of injuries and deaths. “.

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