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Florida driver who crashed into farmworker bus, killing 8, smoked weed and took drugs before fatal crash

Florida pickup truck driver accused of killing eight migrant farm workers and injuring dozens in horrific crash tells authorities he smoked marijuana oil, took pills on a prescription and was on his way to a methadone clinic before the fatal crash, according to his arrest report.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, was arrested after allegedly driving his 2001 Ford pickup truck in the center line of State Road 40 in Ocala and sideswiping the bus early Tuesday, causing it to veer off the road, hit a tree and crash. return.

A heavily bandaged Howard pleaded not guilty to several charges of driving under the influence – manslaughter during his first court hearing Wednesday.

After being handcuffed and taken away, Howard admitted to investigators that he had smoked weed oil and taken two anti-seizure medications and blood pressure medications the night before the fatal crash, according to his court affidavit. arrest.

A heavily bandaged Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, pleaded not guilty to several charges of driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter during his first hearing in Florida court on Wednesday. WFTV9

He said he woke up five hours later and was driving to a methadone clinic – where he receives daily medication for a chipped vertebra – when he allegedly crashed into the bus.

Howard, who told authorities he did not remember the fatal crash, had bloodshot and watery eyes and slurred speech following the crash, police said. the state. He also failed several sobriety tests, police said.

Howard has a long record of driving violations — and told authorities he crashed his mother’s car into a tree while trying to avoid an animal a few days earlier, according to the affidavit.

Howard, pictured in his photo, had bloodshot and watery eyes, as well as slurred speech following the crash, cops said. Marion County Sheriff’s Office
Howard was reportedly impaired when he crossed his 2001 Ford Ranger in the center line of State Road 40 and slid sideways into the bus, forcing it off the road around 6:40 a.m. 9NEWS

He had at least three accidents and numerous citations dating back to 2006, including a citation for crossing the center line, according to Marion County court records.

His license has also been suspended at least three times – most recently in 2021 for getting too many citations in one year. In 2013, he was convicted of robbery, and a year later his probation was revoked after he tested positive for cocaine.

The judge denied him bail during Wednesday’s hearing and set his next court appearance for next month.

Meanwhile, the Mexican consulate in Orlando said it was working to support the victims.

The deceased victims were all from Mexico and were temporarily in the United States on work visas. 9NEWS
The bus hit a tree and overturned after being swept away by the van. 9NEWS

Juan Sabines, the Mexican consul in Orlando, told Spanish-language media that seven workers, three of them in critical condition, were still hospitalized Wednesday.

The seasonal farm workers on board were about to harvest watermelons when the accident occurred, authorities said.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday that 44 Mexican farm workers were on the bus, hired by a Mexican American farmer to work on the watermelon farm on H-2A visas.

Six of the dead have been identified so far, including: Evarado Ventura Hernández, 30; Cristian Salazar Villeda, 24 years old; Alfredo Tovar Sánchez, 20 years old; Isaías Miranda Pascal, 21 years old; José Heriberto Fraga Acosta, 27 years old; and Manuel Pérez Rios, 46 years old.

With post wires

New York Post

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