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Thomas DeLattre and Glen D. Wieland

Driver charged with DUI-manslaughter in crash that killed eight

On Behalf of | May 22, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

The driver of a pickup truck was arrested and charged with eight counts of DUI-manslaughter after crashing into a bus carrying farm workers near Ocala, about 80 miles north of Orlando. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the truck approached the centerline on State Road 40 shortly before the collision. The truck sideswiped the bus, caused it to crash through a fence, and then hit a tree and overturn.

Eight passengers on the bus died in the accident, and at least 40 persons were injured. The truck was taking the men to Cannon Farms in Dunnellon, which had been harvesting watermelons.

Unusual circumstances

In addition to the large number of riders who were killed, the accident has other unique and troubling aspects. The driver of the pickup truck was believed to be under the influence of a performance reducing drug, although the highway patrol did not specify the drug in question.

The truck driver was also reported to have a long history of traffic offenses, including arrests for driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident and possession of marijuana. The truck driver was arrested and subjected to eight counts of driving under the influence of alcohol – manslaughter.

The nationality of the injured and deceased workers is still unclear. In the first hours after the accident, a confusion of reports in Chicago led officials to believe that the dead workers were Nicaraguan. When the confusion was relieved, the workers were identified as Mexican, and Mexican consulate officials from Orlando were at the scene of the accident.

What next?

This accident will likely lead to calls for greater safety regulations for migrant farm workers. According to federal statistics, vehicle crashes are a leading cause of job-related deaths among farmworkers. In the meantime, the families of the dead victims and the forty who were injured will need to focus on replacing the income that they lost due to the deaths and injuries suffered in the accident.



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