Crash between semi-tanker truck and bus leaves 1 dead, 10 …

FORT MEADE, Fla. — A crash between a semi-tanker truck and a bus carrying migrant workers, left one person dead and multiple others injured Monday morning.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office said the crash occurred on U.S. Highway 98 East at Adams Road in Fort Meade, around 6 a.m.

“I was a farmworker myself at once. It just brings me back to how we grow up and the suffering that we went through,” said Isabel Leo’N program director of Polk County Public Schools Farmworker Career Development Program.

Out of 38 people on the bus, one person died and nine other people on the bus were taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, Sebring Hospital, Lake Wales Hospital, and Tampa General Hospital. The driver of the semi-tanker was taken to Bartow Regional Medical Center.

“They don’t know English. They’re already intimidated and if nurses and doctors are coming in, I’m sure they’re just afraid,” Leo’N said.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation has thus far found the bus was heading westbound and “for unknown reasons, it crossed over into the eastbound lane and struck the tanker head-on as the tanker was heading eastbound.

The group was on their way to work in the strawberry fields in Plant City.

“All crashes are gut wrenching but when you see that there’s a group of folks who were on their way to do hard work, that most of society won’t do, so that we have the ability to have fresh fruit and the driver careens over the center line head on into another vehicle, it’s very sad,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

The bus carrying the migrant workers is owned by Overlook Harvesting in Winter Haven.

The migrants are part of the H-2A visa program which allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the states to fill temporary agricultural jobs. As a former farmworker, Leo’N knows how devastating missing a day’s work can be.

“They’re here to work, they’re here to come and make money so they can give their families a better life in Mexico,” said Leo’N.

Some fuel did leak from the tanker and the rest was transferred to another truck. The roads in the area opened back up around 2:30 p.m.

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