Truck driver accused in horrific bus crash that killed eight…

A truck driver charged with eight counts of intoxicated manslaughter after a horrific bus disaster will remain in prison after his multiple past driving offences were discovered.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, faces charges in connection with the deaths of eight migrant agricultural labourers in a Tuesday crash on a Florida farm, according to a Florida Highway Patrol news release. It is unknown what substance Mr. Howard was allegedly inebriated on.

Mr. Howard appeared in court on Wednesday morning, his head wrapped in bandages, and was assigned public defender.

Prosecutors analysed his lengthy history of traffic violations and requested that he be held without bond, which the judge granted.

His name has surfaced in 24 court records between 2003 and 2021, many of them related to driving-related violations, according to court documents obtained by The independent.

Florida authorities said Mr. Howard was driving a 2001 Ford Ranger Tuesday morning when it crossed the center line on State Road 40 near Ocala.

A farm worker bus also drove along the road, carrying migrants heading to Cannon Farm in Dunnellon to harvest watermelons.

Bryan Howard, 41, has been charged with eight counts of manslaughter after eight people were killed in a horror bus crash (Marion County Sheriff’s Office )

The truck allegedly sideswiped the bus, causing the bus to leave the road and crash through a fence and tree before overturning.

The result of the crash left a gruesome scene: the entire bus ended up on its side, windows were smashed, the emergency rear door and top hatch opened, while the truck also suffered extensive damage to the driver’s side.

A total of 53 people were on the bus at the time, with eight killed and at least 40 injured, many of whom were hospitalised.

Mr. Howard was arrested that day and faces a number of accusations.

Mr. Howard told police that he was on his way to a methadone clinic for treatment of a broken vertebra in his back when the accident occurred, according to an arrest report obtained by Click on Orlando.

Howard’s name appears in 24 court records going back to 2003. According to mugshots from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, he claimed to be “driving carefully” after crashing his mother’s car into a tree while attempting to escape an animal that raced in front of him three days prior the vehicle, the report said.

He allegedly told investigators that the night before he had smoked his friend’s marijuana oil obtained through a medical card before taking his own prescription medications, Klonopin, Lyrica and clonidine. He then got about five hours of sleep that night, the arrest report shows.

While troopers visited Howard at the hospital after he was discharged, he underwent a series of field sobriety tests that he largely failed, the arrest document shows.

The documents state that Mr. Howard could not explain why he allegedly drove into the wrong lane, remembering only that he was wearing his seat belt and that the airbags in his truck were deployed.

Marion County Fire Rescue and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office on scene to assist victims after a bus carrying farm workers crashed and overturned early Tuesday (AP)

In the aftermath of the fatal crash, the suspect’s series of previous encounters with police have now come to light, with previous arrests for driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident and possession of marijuana.

Most recently, Mr. Howard was arrested on charges of driving with a suspended/revoked license in 2021. The prosecutor has dropped charges in that case.

Other charges over the years include reckless driving, running a red light, violating a traffic sign and an expired driver’s license.

He was also charged with stolen property and grand larceny in 2013. Mr. Howard was jailed in that case and spent two years on probation.

Mr Howard will next appear in court to face charges relating to the fatal crash on June 18.

Some of the victims killed in Tuesday’s crash have now been identified as Mexican farm workers.

The bus with 53 farm workers on board crashed and overturned (AP)

Emergency workers work at the site of a fatal bus accident involving farm workers on Tuesday morning (AP)

Alicia Bárcena, Mexican Foreign Minister, added: “I regret to report that there has been a tragic car accident in Florida involving Mexican farm workers.”

“We extend our condolences and prayers to the families of the departed. In accordance with our responsibilities, the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct a complete and comprehensive traffic accident and criminal investigation,” Dave Kerner, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, stated in the FHP release.

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