N.J. School Bus Driver Charged in Crash That Killed 2, Injured 43
The school bus driver’s record shows 14 license suspensions and 16 driving violations, although none bar him from driving a school bus in New Jersey.
The driver who crashed a school bus after allegedly attempting to make an illegal U-turn on a busy New Jersey highway has been charged in connection with the accident.
Hudy Muldrow Sr., 77, has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday.
Ten-year-old student Miranda Vargas and 51-year-old teacher Jennifer Williamson were killed in the May 17 accident when the bus, driven by Muldrow, crashed into a dump truck.
Muldrow was transporting 38 fifth-graders and seven adults from East Book Middle School in Paramus for a field trip when he allegedly missed an exit and crossed three lanes towards a break in the median reserved for emergency vehicles in an attempt to make a U-turn.
The criminal complaint says Muldrow “disregarded the marked No Turn sign” and turned his bus “so that it was positioned in an almost-perpendicular direction in relation to the lanes of travel on Route 80 Westbound,” reports AP News.
A dump truck traveling in the same direction slammed into the bus, causing it to flip onto its side and on top of a guardrail, detaching it from its chassis.
N.J. School Bus Driver Had License Suspended 14 Times
In an interview, Muldrow’s son said his father denied making a U-turn and that he has always been a safe driver.
However, Muldrow’s driving record is far from pristine, which has raised questions about New Jersey’s requirements for school bus drivers.
According to his New Jersey driving record, Muldrow’s license was suspended 14 times between 1975 and 2017, six of which were for parking violations and seven for administrative or paperwork issues. In 2017, his license was suspended for failing to pay parking tickets.
His record also shows 16 driving violations, including eight violations for speeding between 1975 and 2001. He was cited for an improper lane change in 2010.
In addition, Muldrow has been involved in five crashes, although the record does not indicate if Muldrow was the driver or passenger in the accidents.
None of Muldrow’s previous violations bar him from driving a school bus in New Jersey or having a job with Paramus Public Schools, says Mairin Bellack, a spokeswoman for the state Motor Vehicle Commission.
Under state law, a driver does not lose a commercial driver’s license with a school bus and passenger endorsement unless they accumulate 12 or more points on their license at one time.
Points can be taken off licenses over time due to good driving or by taking defensive driving classes. At the time of the crash, Muldrow had no active points.
Bellack declined to say whether Muldrow had more license suspensions and violations than the average school bus driver.
Muldrow earned his New Jersey commercial driver’s license in 2012, which requires drivers to pass a knowledge and road test.
He also earned his school bus endorsement in 2013, which requires drivers to pass a road test and a written test. It also requires drivers to submit medical forms showing they are physically fit and to pass state and federal background and fingerprint checks, according to NJ.com.
There is no maximum age for school bus drivers, but drivers must submit a completed federal medical examiner’s certificate every two years to show they are fit to drive a bus. Some drivers are also required to submit yearly physical forms if they have certain medical conditions.
Bus drivers are not required to retake driver’s tests to prove they can still drive well as long as they pass their medical exams and keep their New Jersey passenger and school bus driver endorsements up-to-date each year.
Muldrow was taken into police custody Thursday and is expected to make an initial court appearance before a Superior Court judge in Morristown Friday. Vehicular homicide charges carry a potential sentence of five to 10 years in prison.
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