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Suspected DUI driver in Florida migrant bus crash that killed 8 to be held without bond

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Updated  May 15, 2024 6:19pm EDT

DUI suspect in deadly bus crash denied bond

The man suspected of causing a crash involving a bus while impaired, killing eight people and injuring dozens more, will stay in the Marion County Jail.

OCALA, Fla. - The man who was arrested and charged with eight counts of DUI manslaughter after crashing into a bus carrying farmworkers in Marion County will be held without bond, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

READ: Driver arrested for DUI in Marion County bus crash that left 8 dead, dozens injured: FHP

According to an affidavit, Bryan Maclean Howard was driving a Ford Ranger when the truck and a retired 2010 International School Bus carrying around 53 farmworkers sideswiped each other, sending the bus off State Road 40 where it overturned.

Eight people were killed in the crash, and 38 were injured, including eight hospitalized in critical condition. Florida Highway Patrol has identified six of the eight who died:

The affidavit shows Howard was under the influence of marijuana after vaping the previous night, with the suspect telling investigators his friend had a medical marijuana card. FHP says Howard had also taken multiple prescription medications - Klonopin, Lyrica and Clonidine - hours before the crash and did not remember exactly what led to the collision.

Howard made his first appearance in court on Wednesday.

Howard was denied bond Wednesday on all eight counts due to the nature of the charges and, as it was revealed in court, his getting into a separate crash just three days prior to Tuesday's fatal wreck. In that instance, Howard said he crashed into a tree after trying to avoid an animal in the road.

Prosecutors told a Marion County judge that Howard has several prior convictions on his record, as well, many of which included driving infractions.

Bryan Howard was wrapped in several bandages when he appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday, facing eight counts of DUI manslaughter in a deadly crash involving a migrant bus. He sustained serious injuries in the crash, authorities said.

He was previously arrested for the following:

No bond for Fla. man arrested in migrant bus crash

Bryan Howard appeared in court for the first time Wednesday after he was charged with DUI Manslaughter in the fatal crash involving a migrant bus. He will be held without bond, a Marion County judge ruled.

An attorney with the public defender's office argued on behalf of Howard, saying he should be granted bond because he has never failed to show up for court in the past.

The judge also ruled that Howard is not allowed to drive or consume any alcohol, controlled substances, or prescription drugs without a prescription while this case is pending.

"There's a high probability this may be beyond eight fatalities," Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Pat Riordan said on Tuesday.

Howard was also taken to the hospital with serious injuries after the crash. Arrest records show that Howard, who is from Ocala, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech when questioned about Tuesday's crash, and was booked into jail at 3:44 p.m.

"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," said Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods during a press conference.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, has a lengthy criminal history dating back to the mid 2000s. (Courtesy: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

The workers were headed to a watermelon farm in Dunnellon.

The crash also gives weight to a larger conversation that's been going on about farmworker safety, particularly with transportation. Federal statistics showed that crashes were the leading cause of job-related deaths for farmworkers in 2022, the latest year available for data. 

Starting on June 28, the Labor Department plans to require employer vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds that are transporting farmworkers on temporary visas to have seatbelts, among other worker protections.


According to the Orlando-based Mexican Consulate, the deceased are all from Mexico.

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Howard's next court hearing is scheduled for June 18. 

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