FORT MEADE, Fla. (WFLA) — At least one person was killed after a semi-tanker truck and a bus carrying grove workers crashed on US-98 in Polk County, according to deputies.
Sheriff Grady Judd said a migrant labor bus carrying 38 people went over the center line in the area of US-98 East and Adams Road, hitting the semi-truck head-on at about 6 a.m. Monday morning.
According to the sheriff, the workers were on their way to harvest strawberries in Plant City.
Judd said the tanker, which had an estimated cargo of 8,400 pounds of unleaded gasoline, ended up having a small leak, but the fuel was in the process of being offloaded while the tanker remains in the grove.
Deputies said one worker was killed. Initially, the number of those hospitalized was reported to be nine, but Judd said 10 people were in the hospital.
“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 for reasons unknown at this point of the investigation, the driver careens into another vehicle, it’s very sad,” the sheriff said.
So far, it is known that four were taken to Lakeland Regional Health, and another four were taken to Sebring Hospital.
The tanker driver was hospitalized at Bartow Regional Medical Center for minor injuries, according to the sheriff.
Judd said the bus was owned by Overlook Harvesting in Winter Haven.
“We’ll notify DCF and [the worker’s] home country of origin so if they’re not from the United States so they can receive services from them as well,” the sheriff said.
The roadway is now closed as first responders continue to clear the scene.
Drivers are asked to find alternative routes.