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Ocala driver charged after driving drunk in crash that killed 8, injured 38. How Leesfield & Partners does its part to fight for families and eradicate the prevalence of impaired drivers on the road.

People all over the world rely on public transportation to get them where they need to go every day. They go to work, school and are expected to come home safely. Sadly, that was not the case for at least 46 people last week in Marion County after a bus rollover crash killed eight farm workers on board and injured 38 others. 

According to a statement from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 53 people aboard a bus just before 7 a.m. on May 14 when it had a sideswipe crash with a 2001 Ford Ranger private truck. The bus went off the road following the crash, through a fence and later rolled over. 

At least eight of the 38 passengers who were injured were reported to be in critical condition, according to the Miami Herald. The driver of the truck involved in the incident, 41-year-old Bryan Maclean Howard, of Ocala, was charged Tuesday with eight counts of driving under the influence and manslaughter. Details on the name of the transportation company that operated the bus in the crash were not immediately available.

The bus was heading to Cannon Farms, a watermelon farm that closed its doors the day of the crash “out of respect,” according to an online statement from the company. A GoFundMe page has been created to fundraise for the surviving passengers and the families of the deceased. The Farmworker Association of Florida is organizing the fundraiser. 

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Since January, there have already been 132,854 crashes reported state-wide with 990 of those being fatal resulting in the deaths of 1,050 people, according to data from the FLHSMV. About 35 people have been killed in 2024 on the roads in Marion County. 

The May 14 crash investigation is ongoing.    

A history of fighting for victims

As a personal injury law firm, Leesfield & Partners has seen the devastating effects of crashes in all forms from a commercial vehicle involved in an e-bike crash that forever altered the life of a 15-year-old Sarasota boy to a 2010 crash that killed a special needs young man aboard a Princess Cruise Lines shore excursion tour bus.

In that instance, the young man was aboard a bus while visiting Tortola, an island in the British Virgin Islands, with his family. An investigation revealed that the bus was not properly maintained and was being operated by a driver with a slew of driving violations. The bus hurtled from a steep and twisting road before crashing into an embankment and finally overturning. The young man was ejected from the bus and later died at a local hospital.

This image shows the aftermath of a Princess Cruise Lines shore excursion bus crash that killed a young man traveling with his family.

Photo showing the aftermath of the Feb. 23, 2010, rollover Princess Cruise Lines crash that killed a young man aboard the cruise’s shore excursion in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.


The firm also represented the family involved in a crash with a drunk driver that took the life of a 23-year-old medical student. That crash resulted in the medical student’s younger brother, 21, unable to walk or speak and he now requires constant care. The firm was able to secure a $95 million settlement for the family in that case, the largest motor vehicle settlement in Miami-Dade County history and the fourth largest in the state.

Though the settlement will cover any hospital and at-home nurse bills that the 21-year-old brother will incur over a lifetime of needing round-the-clock care, no amount of money will ease a family’s agony following the death of a loved one. Leesfield & Partners recognizes the heartbreak that these needless tragedies cause and the subsequent havoc they have on families nationwide.

In addition to legal work, Leesfield & Partners is connected to actively supporting efforts to end drunk and impaired driving. Ira Leesfield, the firm’s founder and board certified attorney, has partnered in the past via the Leesfield Family Foundation with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an organization established in the 80s dedicated to stopping drunk driving and underage drinking. In 2015, the foundation supported the organization’s annual 5K run and members of the law firm participated in the event which drew over 1,000 people to Tropical Park to participate. 

The 2024 Walk Like MADD 5K in Miami will take place on Oct. 7. Visit the MADD website for more information and additional Florida locations for future runs.

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