Driver charged with DUI-manslaughter for farmworkers’ bus crash in Florida now faces more charges

OCALA, Fla. (AP) — A driver already charged with DUI-manslaughter after his pickup truck crashed into a bus and killed eight farmworkers in central Florida is now facing additional charges for the injuries of 11 other farmworkers on the bus, authorities said,

Eleven counts of DUI with serious bodily injury were filed last Thursday against Bryan Howard, who already was facing eight counts of DUI-manslaughter in connection with the accident two weeks ago.

Court records show Howard, 41, has entered a plea of not guilty to the charges and has waived his appearance for an arraignment next month.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Howard drove his 2001 Ford pickup into the center line on a two-lane road and struck the bus early in the morning of May 14, causing it to veer off the road, strike a tree and flip over.

The seasonal farmworkers were on their way to harvest watermelon at Cannon Farms in Dunnellon, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Orlando in north-central Florida’s Marion County. The crash occurred in a rural area of rolling hills with numerous horse farms and abundant fruit and vegetable fields.

According to the arrest report, Howard had bloodshot and watery eyes and slurred speech after the crash, which he said he didn’t remember.

He told an investigator that the night before the early-morning crash he had taken two anti-seizure drugs and medication for high blood pressure in addition to smoking marijuana oil. He said he woke up about five hours later and was driving to a methadone clinic where he receives daily medication for a chipped vertebra, according to the affidavit.

Howard failed several sobriety tests and was arrested, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

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