8 people dead, 8 critically hurt when bus carrying laborers crashes in Florida

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The bus crashed through a fence after colliding with a truck and ended up on its side.

DUNNELLON, Fla. — A bus carrying farmworkers rolled over following a crash on State Road 40, killing eight people and critically injuring eight more, authorities said. Many others were hurt.

The crash happened around 6:35 a.m. Tuesday on State Road 40 just east of U.S. Highway 41, according to Marion County Fire Rescue. The scene is located just north of the Citrus and Marion county line.

The passengers on the bus — authorities said 46 total — were laborers heading to a watermelon farm and were working for a private company, according to the Ocala StarBanner. A total of 38 people were taken to the hospital, the sheriff’s office said. Of those patients, eight were listed in critical condition; the other 30 people had non-life-threatening injuries. 

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“There’s a high probability this may be beyond eight fatalities,” Florida Highway Patrol Lieutenant Pat Riordan said when referencing the people seriously hurt during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. The driver of the pickup truck is among those seriously hurt in the crash, he added. 

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the 2010 International Bus transporting the farm workers and a 2001 Ford Ranger truck somehow sideswiped each other. The bus traveled off the road through a fence and then overturned.

Video from Sky 10 showed a white bus overturned on its side, with damage seen to nearby fencing and trees.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office stressed that the bus involved is not a school bus. The county school district confirmed to 10 Tampa Bay a school bus was used to help take people to the hospital for treatment. 

“We will be closed today out of respect to the losses and injuries endured early this morning in the accident that took place to the Olvera Trucking Harvesting Corp.,” Cannon Farms wrote on its Facebook page. “Please pray with us for the families and the loved ones involved in this tragic accident. We appreciate your understanding at this difficult time.”

According to The Associated Press, a Department of Labor document shows Olvera recently applied for 43 H-2A workers to harvest watermelons at Cannon Farms this month, also at a base rate of $14.77 an hour, with promises of housing, three meals a day and transportation to and from the fields.

State Road 40 is closed because of the crash. Drivers are urged to find an alternate route, especially when traveling to or from Citrus and Marion counties. FHP said the road will remain closed until the investigation is done at the scene. Some alternate options include:

Eastbound on State Road 40: Take U.S. Highway 41 north to west County Road 328, then head east on west County Road 328 back to State Road 40Westbound on State Road 40: Take west County Road 328 west to U.S. Highway 41, then go south on U.S. Highway 41 back to State Road 40

The FHP is investigating what led up to the crash. Riordan said there is a “massive response” from the agency. 

Editor’s note: Previous reports from law enforcement said 53 people were involved in the crash. Marion County Sheriff’s Office has since clarified that 46 people in total were involved. 

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.