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Truck driver involved in Florida bus crash that killed 8 farm workers charged with drunken driving manslaughter

Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner/USA Today Network

Police and firefighters are working the scene of a crash on West Highway 40 in Marion County, Florida, on Tuesday.



CNN

The driver of a pickup truck involved in a Tuesday morning crash that killed eight farm workers and injured at least 40 people in north-central Florida has been charged with eight counts of ‘driving under the influence – manslaughter’ , according to a press release. of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The 2010 International bus carrying “approximately 53 farm workers” and a 2001 Ford Ranger collided sideways about 6:35 a.m., about 15 miles west of Ocala, the Florida Highway Patrol said in a statement.

The Ford, “for unknown reasons, moved toward the center line” before the vehicles collided, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Patrick Riordan said during a news conference at the scene. The bus then left the roadway, crossed a fence and overturned.

Bryan Maclean Howard, the driver of the Ford Ranger, was arrested Tuesday afternoon, Dave Kerner, executive director of the Department of Highway Safety, said in a statement. CNN has not yet been able to determine whether Howard has an attorney.

Eight people died while 45 injured people were transported to medical facilities, including eight in critical condition, James Lucas of the Marion County Fire Department said earlier in the day.

“There is a high probability that there will be more than eight deaths,” Riordan said, noting that some of the injured, including the driver of the van, are in “very serious condition.”

“The identities of the deceased will be released pending notification of next of kin,” Kerner said in his statement. “Our sympathies and prayers go out to the families of the deceased. Consistent with our duties, the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct thorough and comprehensive investigation of motor vehicle crashes and criminal investigations.

Footage captured by CNN affiliate WESH showed the bus — which Riordan said was taking workers to an area farm — lying on its side in a field, with first responders’ vehicles parked nearby, their lights flashing .

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods indicated that authorities believed the bus passengers were migrant workers, telling reporters: “We are a very large agricultural county. So this time of year, we always have migrant workers that are in our county, getting on buses like this.

At a news conference Tuesday evening, Juan Sabines, the Mexican consul in Orlando, said the victims were all from Mexico and were in the United States on temporary agricultural worker visas.

“Please pray for these nationals,” Sabines said. “We hear a lot of bad things about immigrants all the time, but in reality, these people are good people. (They are) very good people, young people.

“They stay in this country only for work, with (a) visa,” he added. “They are very good people and now they have lost the main breadwinner of their family.”

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Woods noted there were issues related to language barriers, but said the sheriff’s office’s bilingual staff and support staff were assisting in the investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board is monitoring the situation, he said, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also said it was aware of the crash.

“Our heartfelt thoughts are with the victims, their families and the community as FMCSA evaluates the information currently available to support state and local safety officials,” an agency spokesperson said.

Westbound lanes on Highway 40 will be closed “for most of the day,” the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page, asking motorists to take alternate routes.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

CNN’s Ana Melgar Zugina and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

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News Source : amp.cnn.com

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