School Bus Driver Charged With Homicide After Deadly Crash
Posted May 24, 2018 11:51 p.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2018 11:55 p.m. EDT
The driver of the school bus that crashed in northwest New Jersey last week, killing a fifth-grader and a teacher on a field trip, was charged Thursday with vehicular homicide, prosecutors and the State Police said.
Hudy Muldrow, 77, was transporting 44 passengers from a middle school in Paramus, New Jersey, when his bus collided with a dump truck on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive. The passenger compartment of the bus separated from its chassis and overturned in the median of the highway.
Miranda Vargas, a 10-year-old student at East Brook Middle School, and Jennifer Williamson, 51, a longtime teacher at the school, died in the crash. Everybody else on board, including Muldrow, was taken to a hospital, some with serious injuries.
The driver of the dump truck, who also was hospitalized with injuries, has not been identified. He has not been charged in the crash.
Investigators from the New Jersey State Police and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office determined that Muldrow attempted an illegal U-turn on the highway after missing an exit, according to a news release they issued Thursday afternoon. They charged him with two counts of reckless vehicular homicide.
Muldrow, who lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey, will be held in the Morris County jail until an appearance before a judge in the Morris County Courthouse, the prosecutor’s office said. That arraignment is expected to occur Friday morning.
Matthew W. Reisig, a lawyer representing Muldrow, said in a statement that he turned his client over to the prosecutors Thursday morning. “While we understand that this accident and its tragic consequences are a matter of considerable public interest, my client has faith in the criminal justice system and reiterates his presumption of innocence,” the statement said.
Citing the State Police, the prosecutor’s office said Muldrow’s bus and two others traveling with it from the school ventured off course en route to Waterloo Village, a re-created 19th-century town, in Stanhope, New Jersey. Muldrow returned to the interstate and immediately cut across the westbound lanes to get to a crossover in the middle of the highway that is reserved for police cars and other official vehicles, the news release said.
The bus was nearly perpendicular to the highway when the oncoming dump truck struck it in the rear of its left side, sending it into the median, the prosecutor’s office said.
Muldrow had a commercial driver’s license and an endorsement to drive a school bus, records of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission show. His license has been suspended 14 times in 43 years, most recently late last year, those records show. About half of those suspensions, including the most recent one, involved parking violations.
Muldrow was employed by the Paramus Board of Education and the bus he drove was part of the borough’s fleet, Michele Robinson, the Paramus schools superintendent, said last week.
This week, after reports about Muldrow’s driving history, Robinson released a statement that said: “I am shocked, saddened and angry to read news reports concerning the school bus driver’s driving record. Nothing that was provided to the district by the state reflected that the driver had any moving violations. In fact, all we were told is that he was a driver in good standing and eligible to operate a school bus. If these news reports are true, our community and our children deserved better than to receive incomplete information about his record.”
On Thursday, the day of Williamson’s funeral, Robinson declined to say anything more.