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Florida Immigrant Coalition renews calls for transportation equity amid fatal migrant bus crash

NHTSA says Florida has 3rd largest number of bus accidents in country
Posted at 7:13 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 19:14:15-04

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A fatal bus accident in Marion County is now shedding additional light on transportation inequities among migrant communities, particularly across Florida.

Tuesday, authorities said a bus carrying farmworkers collided with a pickup truck and overturned in central Florida, killing eight people and injuring about 40 other passengers.

The bus was transporting 53 farmworkers at about 6:40 a.m. when it collided with a truck in Marion County, about 80 miles north of Orlando, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, transportation accidents are the most frequent type of workplace fatality, accounting for 37.7% of all occupational fatalities. There were 2,066 fatal injuries from transportation incidents in 2022, a 4.2% increase from 1,982 in 2021.

The Florida Highway Patrol investigates a deadly bus crash in Marion County, north of Orlando, on May 14, 2024.jpg
The Florida Highway Patrol investigates a deadly bus crash in Marion County, north of Orlando, on May 14, 2024.

Additionally, USDOL statistics showed transportation incidents were the highest cause of fatalities within minority groups, with 278 for Black or African American workers and 439 for Hispanic or Latino workers.

Data shows foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for 63.5% (792) of total Hispanic or Latino worker fatalities (1,248). Fatalities in the construction industry accounted for 316 of the 792 foreign-born Hispanic or Latino worker deaths in 2022.

Attorney Bill Zoeller has advocated on behalf of immigrants and their families in similar cases, and told WPTV's Dave Bohman many of the buses agricultural immigrant workers take to the fields aren't well maintained, and said many of their drivers aren't well trained.

 Yareliz Mendez-Yamora of the Florida Immigrant Coalition May 2024.png
Yareliz Mendez-Yamora of the Florida Immigrant Coalition says the incident is an opportunity to look at some of the inequities in the system and advocate.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition is now renewing calls for equal transportation standards.

"It not only brings up questions of equity but it also brings up questions of humanization," said Florida Immigrant Coalition's Yareliz Mendez-Yamora. "We know that for so long, immigrants have been demonized in the state of Florida, and it takes a tragedy of this scale to see people as human, where at least eight folks have died. This is an opportunity for us to look at some of the inequities in our system and advocate."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida also accounts for the third largest number of bus accidents in the country.