Driver in crash with bus that killed 8 farmworkers in Florida was in a crash 3 days earlier, judge said

The driver of a truck that slammed into a bus carrying farmworkers, killing eight people, was in another crash just three days earlier, a Florida judge said Wednesday.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 40, was ordered held without bail a little more than 24 hours after the crash that led to him facing eight counts of driving under the influence-manslaughter.

While sending Howard to jail until at least his next court appearance on June 18, Marion County Judge LeAnn Mackey-Barnes noted that the suspect was “in an auto accident at least three days prior to this accident.”

“Given your history of driving history and prior for leaving scene of accident,” Mackey-Barnes said she had no choice but to remand Howard into custody.

In an arrest report obtained by NBC News affiliate WESH 2 in Orlando, troopers said Howard told them after Tuesday’s crash that he was “driving very carefully” because he had been in a crash three days earlier. In that crash, troopers say he told them he “wrapped his mother’s car around a tree.”

Along with the fatalities on Tuesday, 40 others were hospitalized — 8 of them in critical condition — following the early morning crash in Marion County, about 80 miles north of Orlando.

All eight of those killed were Mexican and all had temporary H-2A visa for agricultural workers, the Mexican foreign secretary announced on X late Tuesday. The bus full of workers, carrying about 50 people, was headed to the family-owned Cannon Farms in Dunnellon, WESH reported, citing the highway patrol. 

During the brief hearing on Wednesday, Howard wore a jail smock with a bandage wrapped around his head. He held his shoulder or arms throughout Wednesday’s proceedings.

Mackey-Barnes granted Howard’s request for a public defender, telling the judge he makes $1,200 a month during infrequent construction work and has just $100 in the bank.

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