Driver In Bus Crash That Killed 8 People Had History Of Drug Use, Car Accidents: REPORT

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Fiona McLoughlin Contributor
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The driver in the bus crash that killed eight farmworkers Tuesday had a history of drug use and car accidents, inmate records show.

Bryan Maclean Howard was arrested after he allegedly sideswiped a bus carrying farmworkers in Ocala, Florida, according to the New York Post (NYP). The bus ultimately went off the road, hit a tree and flipped. Eight people were killed, and dozens more were injured in the incident, the outlet noted.

Howard was charged with eight counts of DUI manslaughter and held without bond, according to Marion County inmate records.

The inmate records show the 41-year-old has a long history of driving offenses and drug possession charges. Howard was charged with two counts of drug possession, including marijuana and narcotics, back in 2009, according to the inmate records.

Howard received probation in 2013 after being convicted of grand theft. However, his probation was revoked a year later after he tested positive for cocaine, the NYP reported.

In 2019, Howard was charged for a hit-and-run accident where he allegedly fled the scene, according to inmate records. Howard was also allegedly involved in another accident just days prior to the bus crash Tuesday, according to NBC News. (RELATED: One Dead, Several Injured After Bus Driver Allegedly Hit Gas Pedal Instead Of Brake).

“He stated he was driving very carefully because he was involved in a separate crash 3 days prior,” authorities told NBC. “In this crash, he wrapped his mother’s car around a tree trying to avoid an animal that ran out in front of him.”

Howard’s license has reportedly been suspended at least three times. The latest incident was back in 2021 after he received multiple citations within a year, the NYP noted.

Howard reportedly told authorities he had taken prescription medication and smoked marijuana oil prior to the fatal bus crash, The Post reported. He also reportedly told authorities he had no memory of the crash.

State troopers said the man had watery and bloodshot eyes along with slurred speech following the crash, the outlet noted. He also allegedly failed multiple sobriety tests, the NYP reported.

Howard pleaded not guilty to the eight DUI manslaughter charges Wednesday, the NYP noted. He has a next court appearance scheduled for June 18, per inmate records.

Seven farmworkers remain hospitalized from the incident, the NYP reported. Three are reportedly in critical condition.