Florida bus crash: Man arrested after 8 killed, at least 40 injured in Marion County, officials say

A man has been arrested for eight counts of DUI manslaughter after eight people were killed and dozens of others were injured when a migrant bus and a pickup truck collided in Marion County on Tuesday morning, officials said. 

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) said the crash happened shortly after 6:30 a.m. on State Road 40, west of SW 148 Court, on the outskirts of Dunnellon. 

During a news conference, troopers said a 2010 retired International school bus transporting 53 farmworkers was traveling westbound on SR-40. For unknown reasons, officials said a 2001 Ford Ranger truck traveling eastbound on the same road collided with the bus in a sideswipe manner. 

After the collision, the bus traveled off the roadway through a nearby fence, struck a tree, and overturned, FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan told reporters. 

The driver of the private Ford Ranger truck, Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, was arrested and charged with eight counts of driving under the influence - manslaughter, according to an update from the FHP. 


Bryan Maclean Howard was arrested and charged with eight counts of DUI manslaughter in a bus crash on May 14, 2024. (Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

Over 40 people injured in the crash were taken to local hospitals.

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Troopers are investigating after eight people were killed and 40 people were hurt when a migrant bus and pickup truck collided on State Road 40 in Marion County, Florida. (SKYFOX)

"Some of those are also in very serious condition. So there's high probability this may be beyond eight fatalities," Riordan said. "We do not get in a hurry to conclude what happened until we have all the facts. And with that, I can tell you that it's going to be probably six months at least, before we conclude factually what transpired here today."

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said crews would investigate to see if weather affected the crash. 

"That always a factor because, one, the time in the morning, you know, people claim the sun was in their eyes… it's always a factor," Woods said. "We have to look into it. We have to know if the roads were wet, what other circumstances out here. Was there something else that caused the crash? We don't know right now."

FHP said the victims, described as migrant workers, were headed to a farm in the area when the crash happened.

"We are a very big agricultural county. So this time of year, we always have migrant workers that are in our county that are on buses just like this," Woods said. 

SR-40 was shut down from S.W. 180th Avenue Road to S.W. 140th Avenue for several hours but reopened early Tuesday evening. 

AdventHealth Ocala, which received several of the patients, issued the following statement about the incident:

"Our prayers are with all those affected by the tragic bus accident in Ocala this morning. …  Our immediate priority is to provide exceptional medical care to those injured and compassionate support to our patients and their loved ones. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available."

According to Marion County Fire Rescue, 34 people were transported to local hospitals. Eight of them were listed in critical condition, while the other 26 had non-life-threatening injuries. AdventHealth Ocala added that two of the 16 patients brought to its hospital have been transferred to other facilities, and the remaining 14 patients are in the process of being discharged. 

Cannon Farms in Dunnellon shared the following statement on its Facebook page:

"We will be closed today out of respect to the losses and injuries endured early this morning in the accident that took place to the Olvera Trucking Harvesting Corp. Please pray with us for the families and the loved ones involved in this tragic accident. We appreciate your understanding at this difficult time."

Unlike seasonal workers who go home at the end of the day, migrant workers are away from their families for months. They start their work with citrus and watermelons in Florida and then work their way north. However, Jamie Fussel, the Director of Labor Relations for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, explained that they are here on a specific visa.

"The visa is employer-sponsored, so either a farmer or a farm labor contractor, who's employing them, would start the process," said Fussel. 

Florida has the largest population of H2-A Temporary Agriculture Workers of any state in the nation. 

"There's just been fewer and fewer U.S. workers or U.S. citizens who want to work in agriculture or work out in the fields anymore, but for someone coming from Mexico or Central America, they can find higher wages. They can find work that they're already accustomed to doing, that they're already equipped and skilled to do," said Fussel.

Over 50,000 came in just last year; we know at least eight will never return home. 

A chaplain at Advent Health talked about how hard it was for families far away from their loved ones to learn about this accident but how grateful they were to hear their family members’ voices.

"The patients that we spoke with were in good spirits for what they've been through," said Sequera, the Director of Mission and Ministry for Advent Health in Zephyrhills. "I think at this stage they're just having the initial process of their emotions, and quite frankly, shock is not very far away from them at this point."

The crash remains under investigation.