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Man driving pickup in Marion bus crash charged with 8 counts of DUI manslaughter

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Eight people died and 38 others were injured when a bus carrying farm workers collided with a pickup truck on State Road 40 in Marion County. Read live updates below:

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10:10 p.m. update

The Mexican Consulate said the farmworkers on the bus were as young as 18, with workers as old as in their 40s.

The organization said that one victim, a man in his early 30s, leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter. Family members said he planned to work for five years and provide a better future for his daughter.

The Consulate is trying to speak with the Olvera Trucking Corp and Cannon Farms in Dunnellon. As of Tuesday evening, they have not made contact with either.

The Farmworker Association created a GoFundMe for the victims and their families.

The funds raised will support those affected by the tragic accident.

Read more here.

8:20 p.m. update

WFTV has received a copy of the U.S. Department of Labor form from Olvera Tucking requesting 43 workers to pick watermelon from May 1 to June 4.

See below to read a copy of the H-2A Agricultural Clearance Order - Form ETA-790A:

7:20 p.m. update

Florida Department of Transportation officials said State Road 40 between Ocala and Dunnellon has reopened to traffic.

The bus crash had closed the road for over 12 hours.

6:25 p.m. update

The Florida Highway State Patrol said it could be up to six months before the facts come back surrounding the tragic death of eight migrant workers who were on the way to a watermelon farm in Marion County.

“I’ve worked many fatalities in my career, and this is the death that you do not expect,” Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said Tuesday.

Officials said a retired school bus was carrying 53 migrant workers Tuesday morning when a Ford pickup truck collided with the bus on State Road 40.

FHP said the bus was traveling west on the highway when the pickup made its way to the center lane and sideswiped the bus.

Photos: 8 dead, 38 injured when bus, pickup collide on SR 40 in Marion County

The bus veered onto the shoulder of the roadway, hit a tree and went through a fence before overturning in an open pasture.

On Tuesday, troopers arrested Bryan Maclean Howard, the driver of the pickup, on eight counts of driving under the influence manslaughter.

Residents who live nearby said the roadway is notorious for crashes.

“It’s not uncommon to have this road closed down because of fatalities,” said Ashley Smith, a Marion County resident. “A lot of single fatalities, but not of this magnitude. Eight people in one morning is a record.”

Investigators are still working to confirm the identity of the victims.

FHP said a commercial motor vehicle team was at the scene to specifically investigate the bus involved in the crash.

Watch live team coverage of the crash on Channel 9 Eyewitness News.

5 p.m. update

The Florida Highway Patrol said Tuesday afternoon that it has made an arrest in a bus crash that left eight people dead and 38 others injured.

The agency said that shortly after 1:45 p.m., it arrested Bryan Maclean Howard -- the driver of a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck involved in the crash -- on eight counts of driving under the influence manslaughter.

Investigators said the crash involved Howard’s pickup and a 2010 International Bus that was transporting about 53 employees of a farming company.

Read: Orlando’s Mexican Consulate seeks information about Marion County bus crash victims

The agency said the vehicles were involved in a “sideswipe-type collision,” causing the bus to travel off the roadway, through a fence and then overturn.

FHP said it will release the identities of those killed in the crash once the victims’ relatives have been notified of their deaths.

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


3:55 p.m. update

AdventHealth Ocala said it has transferred two of the 16 patients brought to its hospital to other facilities.

The hospital said that the remaining 14 patients in its care are in the process of being discharged.

Watch live team coverage on the crash on Channel 9 Eyewitness News, beginning at 4 p.m.

Click here to stream live news.


2:45 p.m. update

AdventHealth Ocala will hold a live news conference at 3 p.m.

You can watch it live on Channel 9 or by clicking here.


2:25 p.m. update

Orlando’s Mexican Consulate seeks information about victims in Tuesday’s deadly bus crash in Marion County.

Consulmex Orlando said it is trying to make contact with those affected by the crash, which involved farmworkers.

Those who might know the victims or have information about them are asked to call the Consulate at 520-623-7864.

Click here to read more.


12:45 p.m. update

Marion County Fire Rescue said firefighters arrived at the crash scene within nine minutes of being dispatched.

They said firefighters discovered a bus that had rolled over and immediately called for more help.

Firefighters said they counted a total of 46 patients, with eight of them being declared dead at the scene by paramedics.

They said 38 people were taken to hospitals, with eight in critical condition and 30 with non-life-threatening injuries.

“It is with heavy hearts that we confirm the loss of eight lives,” Marion County fire Chief James Banta said. “I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the 35 MCFR units that promptly responded to the emergency. I also want to thank our partners at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management, HCA Ocala, AdventHealth Ocala and the Marion County Public School system for their invaluable assistance in transporting 45 patients to local hospitals. Their coordinated efforts were crucial in managing this crisis.”

Watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News to see live team coverage on the crash.


11:45 a.m. update

AdventHealth told Channel 9 that it is currently treating 16 patients -- 12 at AdventHealth Ocala and four at AdventHealth Timber Ridge ER.

“Our prayers are with all those affected by the tragic bus accident in Ocala this morning,” said Dr. Rodrigo Torres, AdventHealth Ocala’s chief medical officer. “Our immediate priority is to provide exceptional medical care to those injured and compassionate support to our patients and their loved ones.”

Marion County officials will provide a live update momentarily. Watch it live on Channel 9 or by clicking here.


10:50 a.m. update

The Florida Highway Patrol said the crash happened at 6:35 a.m. on State Road 40 -- about 500 feet west of Southwest 148 Court.

Troopers said the collision involved a 2010 International Bus and a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck.

FHP said 53 farm workers were aboard the bus.

Read: Red Lobster is closing dozens of restaurants; is yours on the list?

“For reasons to be determined, the two vehicles collided in a sideswiped manner,” an FHP spokesman said. “Post collision, the bus traveled off the roadway through a fence and then overturned.”

Troopers said eight people have died in the crash and approximately 40 others have been taken to hospitals for treatment.

Read: Parts of Central Florida under Tornado Watch as active weather pattern continues

Watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News at Noon for live team coverage on the crash.

See a map of the crash scene below:

Click here to download our free news, weather and smart TV apps. And click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.


10:40 a.m. update

Marion County Fire Rescue now says an eighth person has died in a bus crash early Tuesday.

It said 53 others were injured in the crash, and they were taken to a hospital for treatment.

The crash happened shortly before 6:45 a.m. on State Road 40 near Southwest 157th Terrace.


10:25 a.m. update

At least seven people died in a bus crash early Tuesday in Marion County, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The crash happened shortly before 6:45 a.m. on State Road 40 near Southwest 157th Terrace.

Troopers said some of the people died at the scene and others died at a hospital.

They said the crash involved at least two vehicles, including a bus.

The road is closed in the area.


Earlier story:

Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a deadly crash Tuesday morning in Marion County.

Troopers said the crash happened around 6:43 a.m. on State Road 40 near SW 157th Terrace.

Marion County officials said the crash involved a “large-capacity vehicle.”

Read: Parts of Central Florida under Tornado Watch as active weather pattern continues

Deputies in Marion County are calling the incident a “serious accident with fatalities.”

Marion County Public Schools said a school bus was sent to the scene to help transport victims from the crash.

Read: Central Florida Red Lobster locations to be auctioned off as employees hunt for new jobs

School officials confirmed the crash did not involve a school bus, and no students were hurt.

Troopers are investigating the cause of the crash.

Read: Survey: Majority of Florida teachers say not enough resources to combat student violence

SR 40 is shut down in both directions and drivers need to seek alternate routes.

Channel 9 has a crew working to gather more details and will provide updates on Eyewitness News.

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.

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