Dunnellon man charged with manslaughter for Marion County bus crash

Bryan Howard of Dunnellon was charged with manslaughter from driving under the influence leading to the death of eight people in a crash on Tuesday in Marion County.
Bryan Howard of Dunnellon was charged with manslaughter from driving under the influence leading to the death of eight people in a crash on Tuesday in Marion County.
Courtesy of Marion County Jail

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) arrested Bryan MacLean Howard, 41, of Dunnellon on Tuesday afternoon and charged him with eight counts of manslaughter from driving under the influence.  

The FHP report, released Wednesday, notes that further charges are pending. Howard was found at the scene of a Tuesday crash in Marion County that resulted in the deaths of eight people, all farm workers on H-2A visas.  

First responders transported 33 passengers to medical facilities, with eight listed as trauma alerts. Seven passengers were declared dead at the scene.    

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According to the FHP report, the Ford Ranger driven by Howard entered the wrong lane on SR 40, striking a bus carrying 53 farm workers at 6:40 a.m. The bus went off the road, hit two fences and a tree before overturning.  

FHP officer G. Keyes wrote the report. He said multiple officers noted Howard’s slurred speech and bloodshot and watery eyes. At Advent Hospital in Ocala, Howard had a cut on his ear bandaged.  

Keyes and another officer spoke with Howard at the hospital. 

“When asked about the crash, Howard could not explain how he came to be traveling in the wrong lane,” the report said.  

Keyes then had Howard perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Exercises. Based on impairment clues that Keyes saw, Howard was arrested at the hospital and taken to jail.  

Keyes also reports that a witness claimed to see Howard’s vehicle failing to stay in its lane from the intersection of SR 40 and US Highway 41.  

The Mexican Consulate in Orlando opened an emergency line following the accident. The consulate said the crash victims were presumed to be Mexican and asked for any information concerning anyone impacted and their families.  

A candlelight vigil, hosted by the Farmworkers Association of Florida and the Mexican Consulate in Orlando, was held on Wednesday in Apopka. According to a WUFT story, “About 30 local community members, including pastors, nuns, and consulate volunteers attended.” 

In the WUFT story, six of the eight people killed have been identified: Evarado Ventura Hernández, 30, Cristian Salazar Villeda, 24, Alfredo Tovar Sánchez, 20, Isaías Miranda Pascal, 21, José Heriberto Fraga Acosta, 27, and Manuel Pérez Ríos, 46. 

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