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    Driver Hit With DUI Charges After Collision With Migrant Worker Bus Kills 8

    By AJ McDougall,

    2024-05-15
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2c6Ulj_0t2Ui03k00
    GoFundMe

    Authorities in Florida arrested the driver of a pickup truck that slammed into a bus carrying dozens of migrant workers early Tuesday, killing eight and sending more than 40 others to area hospitals.

    Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, was charged with eight counts of D.U.I. manslaughter, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

    The bus, carrying roughly 53 farm workers, was traveling down a highway in north-central Florida when an approaching 2001 Ford Ranger “for unknown reasons, traveled toward the center line” of the road around 6:30 a.m., Lt. Patrick Riordan said at a news conference.

    The vehicles collided in “a sideswipe manner,” according to Riordan. The bus left the road, went through a fence, hit a tree, and overturned. Eight people were pronounced dead shortly after, while another 45 injured were hospitalized, including eight in critical condition.

    “There’s a high probability this may be beyond eight fatalities,” Riordan said. Howard was among the injured, but his condition on Tuesday night was not immediately clear.

    Florida authorities did not immediately release the identities of the victims pending next-of-kin notification, which they said was complicated by the workers’ international identities. Some of the people aboard the bus were identified as Mexican nationals on social media by Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, Alicia Bárcena.

    After being asked by a reporter if the workers were undocumented, Marion County Sheriff Billy Gates said they were legally permitted to be in the United States. “They are hard-working individuals and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them being here,” he said, explaining it was common for migrants to travel to the county in the spring to harvest produce.

    Local station WCJB reported, citing Florida state troopers, that the bus passengers were being ferried to a watermelon farm to begin the working day. Cannon Farms, a family-owned farm operating about an hour south of Gainesville, said that it would close its doors on Tuesday “out of respect to the losses and injuries enduring early this morning.”

    Mandatory safety provisions for the transport of laborers, including seatbelt regulations, often go unenforced, sometimes with deadly consequences. Transport accidents were the leading cause of death for agricultural workers in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    It was not immediately clear if the Florida bus passengers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

    A GoFundMe started by the Farmworker Association of Florida to raise funds for the victims and their families had raised more than $20,000 of a $50,000 goal by Tuesday night.

    “Farmworkers tend to be forgotten, but it’s important not to forget farmworkers, especially during such difficult times,” the fundraising page read.

    Read more at The Daily Beast.

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