Arrest report IDs 6 victims in Florida bus crash, details pickup truck driver’s condition

The arrest report of a man accused of driving under the influence in a crash that left eight people dead Tuesday in Marion County names six of the victims.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 41, of Ocala, faces eight counts of DUI manslaughter, records show. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Howard was driving a Ford Ranger that veered toward the center of State Road 40, west of SW 148th Court, and sideswiped an oncoming bus carrying 53 migrant farmworkers Tuesday morning.

The bus left the roadway, striking two fences and a tree while overturning in a crash that killed eight of the people on board and sent 40 others to the hospital, troopers said.

Howard’s arrest report identifies the following six of the eight people who died in the wreck:

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

The arrest report further describes events leading up to and immediately following the crash.

Howard recounted that he was on his way to a methadone clinic that he visited daily due to a chipped vertebrae, the report states. He claimed that he was driving “very carefully” because he was involved in another crash three days prior in which “he wrapped his mother’s car around a tree” to avoid hitting an animal that ran into the road, according to the report.

After the crash with the bus, Howard exited the Ford and bystanders reportedly showed him the wreck. Howard said “all he knew was there was a bunch of Spanish people on the bus,” the report states, adding he was allegedly unaware of any injuries and could not remember what part of his truck was damaged.

Howard told troopers at the scene that he was hanging out with a friend the previous night. He said he had smoked marijuana oil that the friend had obtained via a medical marijuana card before taking his own prescribed medications — Klonopin, Lyrica and clonidine — and getting around five hours of sleep, the report states.

Troopers followed up with Howard at the hospital, where he had already been discharged. A series of field sobriety exercises followed troopers’ observations that Howard’s speech was still slurred and his eyes still appeared bloodshot and watery, as they were noted as being at the scene, according to officials. He could otherwise not explain why he traveled into the wrong lane at the time of the crash, having claimed earlier that he only remembered he was wearing his seat belt and that the airbags in his pickup truck deployed, officials said.

In his hospital room and the abutting hallway, Howard reportedly failed to maintain his balance during several of the exercises, prompting troopers to place Howard under arrest on DUI charges. Eight hours after the crash, Howard provided two breath samples that each registered a BAC of 0.00, the report states.

Howard was appointed a public defender at his first appearance in court Wednesday morning, where the state listed his prior offenses and asked he be held without bond. The judge agreed, ordering Howard to remain in jail on no bond. His arraignment has been scheduled for the morning of June 18.

Further charges are pending further investigation, according to the arrest report.

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