At Least 8 Dead, 40 Injured As Farmworkers' Bus Overturns In Florida

2 weeks ago A bus carrying farmworkers in central Florida overturned on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring about 40 other passengers, authorities said.

The bus was transporting 53 farmworkers at about 6:40 a.m. when it collided with a truck in Marion County, north of Orlando, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Authorities say the bus swerved off State Road 40, a straight but somewhat hilly two-lane road that passes through farms. It crashed through a fence and ended up on its side in a field. The workers were being transported to Cannon Farms in Dunellon, which has been harvesting watermelons.

Photos taken by the Ocala Star-Banner at the scene show the bus lying on its side with both its emergency rear door and top hatch open. The truck that hit it shows extensive damage to its driver's side.

There is no immediate indication that weather was a factor.

“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 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.”

Cannon Farms describes itself as a family owned commercial farming operation that has farmed its land for more than 100 years, focusing now on peanuts and watermelons, which it sends to grocery stores across the U.S. and Canada.

No one answered the phone at Olvera Trucking on Tuesday afternoon. The company had recently advertised for a temporary driver to bus workers to watermelon fields. The driver would then operate harvesting equipment. The pay was $14.77 an hour.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the workers who were on the bus are migrants, but 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.