At Least 8 Killed After Bus Carrying Migrant Workers Crashes in Florida

At least eight people were killed and dozens of others were injured on Tuesday after a bus carrying migrant farm workers collided with a pickup truck in Central Florida, the local authorities said.

A retired school bus was carrying 53 migrant workers when it sideswiped a Ford pickup truck, drove through a fence, hit a tree and overturned in Marion County, west of Ocala, Fla., according to Lt. Patrick Riordan, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident.

About 40 passengers, including the driver of the pickup truck, were taken to nearby hospitals to be treated for injuries, Lt. Riordan said. He said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the crash site that several people were in critical condition, adding that there was a “high probability” that the number of fatalities would rise.

At least some of the workers were from Mexico, Alicia Bárcena, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, said on social media.

“I am sorry to report that a tragic car accident occurred in Florida involving Mexican farm workers,” she wrote.

The authorities did not immediately release the names of those killed in the accident, and said notifying next of kin was complicated by the fact that the workers came from abroad.

The authorities did not confirm where the bus was traveling, but the local station WCJB reported the bus was carrying workers employed at a watermelon farm in the area.

Cannon Farms, a farm and market in Dunnellon, Fla., said it would be closed until further notice out of respect for “the losses and injuries endured” in the road accident. The company did not answer calls seeking comment.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said a stretch of State Road 40, where the incident occurred, would be closed for most of the day.

The workers had permits to work and were part of a trove of people who arrive to rural Marion County each spring to harvest produce, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods told reporters.

“This time of year, we always have migrant workers that are in our county that are on buses just like this,” he said.

The sheriff said it was unclear whether the passengers were wearing seatbelts.

Transportation-related incidents accounted for nearly half of the deaths among agricultural workers in the United States in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a federal rule expanding farmworker protections that takes effect on June 28, the U.S. Department of Labor will require that farmworkers on temporary visas have access to seatbelts on most employer-provided transportation.

Lt. Riordan said it could take investigators at least six months to determine what had caused the fatal crash.

This is a developing story.

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