Driver in horror Florida bus crash that killed eight migrant workers and injured 45 admits he had mixed pot oil with medication before getting behind the wheel – but pleads not guilty to DUI manslaughter

The Florida truck driver who crashed into a bus, leaving 45 migrant workers injured and eight dead, said he mixed cannabis oil and medication before getting behind the wheel.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, was arrested Tuesday on eight counts of drunken driving and manslaughter after crashing into a bus around 6:30 a.m. in Dunnellon, Marion County.

The bus was transporting 53 workers to a watermelon farm, which officials said was the case Gun farmswhen it collided with the Ford Ranger truck.

The incident sent the bus flying off the road and through a fence where it rolled over, killing eight passengers and injuring 45 others.

Howard has pleaded not guilty to intoxication manslaughter and had been held without bond as of Wednesday.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, was arrested Tuesday after crashing into a bus, injuring and killing migrant workers. He told police on Wednesday that he had mixed cannabis oil and medication before driving

The incident sent the bus flying off the road and through a fence where it rolled over, killing eight passengers and injuring 45 others.

The incident sent the bus flying off the road and through a fence where it rolled over, killing eight passengers and injuring 45 others.

According to Howard’s arrest report, officers say he had bloodshot and watery eyes and slurred speech after the crash, which he said he did not remember.

He told a Florida Highway Patrol investigator that a few days earlier he had crashed his mother’s car into a tree while dodging an animal.

Howard also said he took two anti-seizure medications and high blood pressure medications Monday night, in addition to smoking marijuana oil.

He said he woke up about five hours later and drove to a methadone clinic, where he receives daily medication for a chipped vertebra, according to the affidavit.

It’s unclear exactly what medications he was taking, but Howard failed multiple field sobriety tests before he was arrested.

Responding to a conference call from jail Wednesday, he said he is a self-employed painter and drywall installer with $700 in the bank.

Howard’s head was bandaged and he was wearing a protective gown normally given to inmates on suicide watch.

On Wednesday morning, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the 44 Mexican farm workers on the bus had been hired by a Mexican-American farmer to work at the watermelon farm under H-2A visas.

According to the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Florida farms need about 50,000 H-2A workers each year, more than any other state.

According to Howard's arrest report, officers say he had bloodshot and watery eyes and slurred speech after the crash, but he said he couldn't remember.  (photo: the truck Howard was driving)

According to Howard’s arrest report, officers say he had bloodshot and watery eyes and slurred speech after the crash, but he said he couldn’t remember. (photo: the truck Howard was driving)

Howard also said he took two anti-seizure medications and high blood pressure medications Monday night, in addition to smoking marijuana oil.  (photo: the bus is turned over on the grass after the crash)

Howard also said he took two anti-seizure medications and high blood pressure medications Monday night, in addition to smoking marijuana oil. (photo: the bus is turned over on the grass after the crash)

Crews from Marion County Fire Rescue and the Marion County Sheriff's Office are helping victims of the horror crash Tuesday morning

Crews from Marion County Fire Rescue and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office are helping victims of the horror crash Tuesday morning

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, are six of the eight workers who died.

Andres Sequera, director of mission and ministry at AdventHealth Hospitals, said chaplains visited the injured workers and that they were “good-humored about what they experienced.”

‚ÄúWe were able to provide support, presence and prayer when it was asked of us,‚ÄĚ Sequera said.

FLHSMV Director Dave Kerner said, “Initial investigation indicates the two vehicles collided in a side impact collision.

‘After the collision, the bus left the roadway, went through a fence, and then overturned. Currently, eight people are confirmed dead and approximately 40 people have been transported to local medical facilities.

“The identity of the deceased will be released pending notification of next of kin. Our condolences and prayers are with the families of the deceased.

‚ÄúConsistent with our duties, the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct both a thorough and comprehensive traffic accident investigation and criminal investigation.‚ÄĚ

Cannon Farms, a family-owned business that ships the melons to grocery stores in the U.S. and Canada, said it would remain closed through Wednesday.

‚ÄúThank you to everyone who reached out and offered condolences, help and prayers for the people injured in the crash,‚ÄĚ Cannon Farms said in a Facebook post.

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, are six of the eight workers killed in the crash

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, are six of the eight workers who died in the crash

Officials said the bus was headed to Cannon Farms, about 15 miles from the crash site

Officials said the bus was headed to Cannon Farms, about 15 miles from the crash site

Florida officials closed portions of State Road 40 West as they worked the fatal wreck

Florida officials closed portions of State Road 40 West as they worked the fatal wreck

The company said the bus was operated by Olvera Trucking Harvesting Corp.

A Labor Department document shows that Olvera also asked 43 H-2A workers to harvest watermelons at Cannon Farms this month, again at a base rate of $14.77 per hour, with promises of housing and transportation to and from the fields.

It was not immediately known whether Olvera’s vehicle, which was described by highway patrol as a “retired” school bus, had seat belts.

Marion County court records show Howard has had at least three accidents and numerous traffic tickets dating back to 2006, including one citation for crossing the center line.

His driver’s license has been suspended at least three times, most recently in 2021, for receiving too many citations in a year.

In 2013, he was convicted of theft and a year later his probation was revoked after he tested positive for cocaine.

The judge denied bail, appointed a public defender and set his next court appearance for next month.