OCALA, Fla. — A 41-year-old Marion County man appeared in court Wednesday to face charges in connection with the deaths of eight farm workers who were killed Tuesday in a bus crash on State Road 40.

What You Need To Know

  • Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, was charged with eight counts of DUI manslaughter Tuesday after a crash on State Road 40 in Marion County

  • Howard is accused of driving a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck that got into a "sideswipe-type collision" with a bus carrying 53 migrant farm workers

  • Eight people died in the crash and emergency responders said at least 40 others were injured

Bryan Maclean Howard has been charged with eight counts of DUI manslaughter after a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck he was allegedly driving collided with a 2010 International bus carrying 53 migrant workers to a nearby farm just after 6:30 a.m.

According to an arrest report in the case, the Ford pickup truck was driving east on State Road 40 while the bus was driving westbound.

"For unknown reasons, the Ranger entered the travel lane occupied by the bus," the report said. "The bus struck the Ranger, traveled off of the roadway, struck two fences and a tree, and overturned."

Officials say eight people died in the crash, and at least 40 others were injured.

In the report, the individuals killed in the crash were identified as:

  • Evarado Ventura Hernandez, 30
  • Cristian Salazar Villeda, 24
  • Alfredo Tovar Sanchez, 20
  • Isaias Miranda Pascal, 21
  • Jose Heriberto Fraga Acosta, 27
  • Manuel Perez Rios, 46

Two others were only identified as Hispanic males.

Investigators said seven of the eight people killed in the crash had already been pronounced dead at the scene and were still in the bus when they arrived just before 8:30 a.m. No information was listed about when or where the eighth individual died.

When questioned by Florida Highway Patrol troopers at Advent Hospital in Ocala, Howard reportedly told them he was making his daily trip to the methadone clinic "for a chipped vertebrae in his back."

"When asked about the crash, (Howard) stated he did not remember how it happened," the report said. "He stated he was driving very carefully because he was involved in a separate crash three days prior. In this crash, he wrapped his mother's car around a tree trying to avoid an animal that ran out in front of him."

According to the report, Howard told troopers that he had smoked marijuana oil the night before with a friend, took his regular prescribed medication and went to sleep no later than midnight.

Speaking with him nearly six hours after the crash, investigators noted that Howard had a cut on his left ear that had been bandaged, his "eyes were bloodshot and very watery" and that "his speech was slurred."

After undergoing a series of field sobriety exercises, Howard was arrested in connection with the crash at about 1:47 p.m.

At the Marion County Jail about an hour later, Howard gave two breath samples to investigators, both of which came back negative for alcohol, the report said.

Appearing with his head wrapped with a large white bandage during his first appearance in Marion County court Wednesday, the judge assigned a public defender to represent Howard — who described himself as a self-employed painter and drywall installer.

In arguing for the court to deny Howard a bond in the case, the prosecutor noted that he has a prior conviction for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage in 2019; two convictions for driving with a suspended license in 2018; grand theft and driving on a suspended license convictions in 2013; and a conviction for leaving the scene of an accident in 2006.

The judge ordered him held without bond on the eight DUI manslaughter charges, but noted that if he is released at a later date, he would be barred from driving while the case was ongoing, and could not use or possess alcohol or controlled substances, unless he has a valid prescription.

According to court records, Howard entered a written plea of not guilty in the case Wednesday morning.

His next court date is scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 18.