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Driver arrested after collision with bus that left 8 dead, 45 injured in Florida

Emergency responders work at the scene of a bus accident where eight died and 45 were injured near Ocala, Florida, on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Ocala County Sheriff/TNS)

A devastating traffic collision in central Florida left eight dead and 45 injured after a bus transporting 53 agricultural workers crashed, authorities said.

The bus, which was taking workers to a watermelon farm, collided with a Ford Ranger and overturned around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday on SR-40, between Ocala and Dunnellon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Later on Tuesday, authorities announced the driver of the Ford truck, Bryan Maclean Howard, was arrested and charged with eight counts of driving under the influence-manslaughter.

The Marion County Fire Department reported that eight people died in the accident and eight more are in critical condition, while another 37 people were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

A Florida Highway Patrol officer warned at a news conference at the crash site that the death toll is likely to rise due to serious injuries suffered by several people who were on the bus, the Ocala Star Banner reported. The identities of the fatal victims and the injured have not yet been released.

Dave Kerner, director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said officials are still notifying the families of those killed and injured.

“Our sympathies and prayers are with the families of the deceased,” Kerner said, in a statement. “Consistent with our duties, the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct both a thorough and exhaustive traffic crash and criminal investigation.”

The agricultural workers were being taken to Cannon Farms, which said in a post on Facebook that it would be closed Tuesday out of respect for the deceased and injured and asked to pray for all those involved in the accident.

The road is closed to traffic in both directions while authorities investigate.

“West Highway 40 is still closed and will be for much of today,” the Marion County Police Department said.

The Florida Highway Patrol told drivers eastbound on SR-40 to take U.S. Highway 41 northbound to West C.R. 328, then take West C.R. 328 eastbound back to SR-40. Drivers traveling west on SR-40 should take West C.R. 328 west to US 41, then take U.S. 41 south back to SR-40.


© 2024 Miami Herald

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