Cannon Farms calls for prayers after 8 migrant workers killed in DUI crash

Eight people were killed after this bus carrying around 50 farm workers collided with a pickup truck and went off the road near Ocala, Florida., on Tuesday, March 14, 2024.
Eight people were killed after this bus carrying around 50 farm workers collided with a pickup truck and went off the road near Ocala, Florida., on Tuesday, March 14, 2024. | YouTube/KARE 11

The family-owned Cannon Farms in Dunnellon, Florida, called for prayers and pledged to remain closed Wednesday after eight migrant workers traveling to work on their land were killed in a grisly crash in Marion County Tuesday.

"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 announced on Tuesday. "Please pray with us for the families and the loved ones involved in this tragic accident. We appreciate your understanding at this difficult time."

The farm's owners confirmed in a follow-up statement that they would remain closed on Wednesday.

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"We [will] let everyone know our plan as far as when we will be back at the barn tomorrow afternoon. Thank you so much for understanding," they added.

statement issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles didn't disclose the identity of the deceased workers as their families have not yet been informed of their deaths.

Mexico's Foreign Affairs Secretary Alicia Bárcena stated on social media that some workers are Mexican nationals.

Florida authorities said the deceased workers were among 53 others traveling in a 2010 International bus before it collided with a 2001 Ford Ranger private truck at approximately 6:35 a.m. on State Road 40.

"Initial investigation reveals that the two vehicles made contact in a sideswipe type collision. Post collision, the bus traveled off the roadway, through a fence, and then overturned," the statement said.

At least 40 people were transported to local medical facilities with various injuries.

About 10 people had serious injuries, while at least 25 had minor injuries, according to USA Today. Authorities also indicated that the number of fatalities could increase.

Bryan Maclean Howard, 40, the driver of the pickup, has been arrested and charged with eight counts of driving under the influence — manslaughter.

Howard was previously cited for a number of traffic-related offenses from 2004 to 2019, according to Marion County records. These include failure to wear a seatbelt, driving on a suspended or expired driver's license, failure to stop at a red light, careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. He was also convicted of possessing drug paraphernalia and grand theft.

"My heart goes out to them," Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement to USA Today, describing the workers as hard-working individuals. 

GoFundMe campaign seeking to raise $50,000 for the crash victims has raised more than $41,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

"Your consideration in helping these people is greatly appreciated," campaign organizer Karen Patricio said. "All proceeds will go to support the victims and their families affected by this terrible accident. Farmworkers tend to be forgotten, but it's important not to forget farmworkers, especially during such difficult times."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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