DUI driver in deadly Florida migrant bus crash: 'He did not remember how it happened,' troopers say

The Florida Highway Patrol says Bryan Howard was headed east down State Route 40 when he swayed into oncoming traffic, hitting a bus full of migrant workers.

The bus went off the road, hit two fences and a tree, and flipped over, killing eight people and sending three dozen others to the hospital.

Howard is now charged with eight counts of DUI manslaughter.

Howard told officers he’d smoked weed with a friend the night before the crash and took three of his own prescription medications: Klonopin, a benzo used to treat anxiety; Lyrica, which people take for nerve and muscle pain; and clonidine, a blood pressure medication.

The National Institutes of Health say all four of those drugs cause drowsiness.

The 41-year-old told troopers he had left his parents’ house that morning to head to the methadone clinic in Ocala and had no memory of the crash.

The FHP conducted a field sobriety test about six hours after the crash and says Howard failed every single exercise.

A witness told law enforcement she’d seen Howard swerving in his truck long before the crash.

The Ocala Farm Ministry is one of the organizations assisting with a vigil for the farmworkers killed in the crash. Chaplain Bob Miller of the Ministry talked about how the community feels the loss.


"When one says tragedy or catastrophe, those words just don't then really encompass what happened here," said Miller. "And it's just it's heartbreaking."

Chaplain Miller says if there’s one word to summarize the lost lives, it would be "waste."

"You don't know whether you want to line him up at the firing wall or if you want to hug him and tell him, ‘Look, there's a better way.’ It's just it's so complicated."

A judge denied Howard bond, citing the possibility that he could wind up with more charges against him. FOX 35 News confirmed on Wednesday that all seven of the crash victims at HCA Ocala are still in critical condition. If any of them pass away, that’ll add more manslaughter charges to Howard’s docket.

The judge also brought up Howard’s criminal history.

FOX 35 learned he was sentenced to eight months in jail after he went to a friend’s house to hang out and then stole the guy’s Xbox 360 and Kinect when he went off to shower.

He also got two years of probation after that, which he repeatedly violated.

In 2019, he spent almost two weeks in jail after an off-duty cop saw him crash into a light pole and then ditch the scene.

In 2021, he returned behind bars when he got caught for the fourth time driving without a license.

Cannon Farms, where the workers were headed, was still closed on Wednesday.