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Driver in Florida crash that killed 8 Mexican workers told troopers he smoked marijuana oil, took meds: report

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A Florida man accused of sideswiping a bus, killing eight Mexican farmworkers and injuring dozens more, told troopers he smoked marijuana oil and took prescription drugs the night before the deadly crash, according to a report.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, was charged with eight counts of DUI manslaughter after officials said his 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck struck the bus that was carrying more than 40 workers to a watermelon farm in Marion County. Howard has pleaded not guilty and was being held without bond.

During an interview with Florida Highway Patrol at a hospital following the crash, troopers said that Howard’s eyes were bloodshot and watery, and his speech was slurred, an arrest report stated.

Howard told an investigator that on Monday night, he had taken two anti-seizure drugs and medication for high blood pressure in addition to smoking marijuana oil, according to the affidavit obtained by The Associated Press. 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.

FLORIDA BUS CARRYING MIGRANT FARMWORKERS CRASHES, KILLING AT LEAST 8 AND INJURING DOZENS MORE: OFFICIALS

He also said that he had crashed his mother’s car into a tree while avoiding an animal a few days earlier, according to the affidavit.

Howard then failed a variety of sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

investigators standing next to bus

After Howard’s pickup truck collided with the bus, the bus careened off the road and plowed through two fences before overturning.

investigators standing next to bus

FLORIDA BALLERINA, 15, KILLED IN HIT-AND-RUN BOAT CRASH IN WATER-SKIING ACCIDENT

All eight people killed were in the U.S. from Mexico on H-2A farmworker visas, officials said. Dozens of others were injured and remained hospitalized Wednesday.

Six of the dead have been identified as 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.

investigators at scene of crash

Howard’s driving record includes at least three crashes and numerous traffic tickets dating back to 2006, according to Marion County court records. In one case, he received a citation for crossing the center line of a roadway.

His license has been suspended at least three times, according to the records, with the latest suspension occurring in 2021 for getting too many citations within a year.

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Howard was convicted of grand theft in 2013, and a year later his probation was revoked after he tested positive for cocaine, according to court documents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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