Homicide charges for Paramus school bus driver in fatal crash
MORRISTOWN — The 77-year-old driver of a Paramus public school bus that collided with a dump truck last week on Route 80 has been charged with with two counts of second-degree reckless vehicular homicide.
Hudy Muldrow Sr., of Woodland Park, turned himself in to Netcong State Police station and will be locked up at the Morris County Jail until a Superior Court hearing on Friday, State Police said Thursday.
Morris County prosecutors confirmed what a Department of Transportation official said could be seen on a traffic cam recording: the bus was hit by the dump truck as the bus crossed three lanes of traffic to get to a cut-through in the median for emergency vehicles.
Student Miranda Vargas, 10, and teacher Jennifer Williamson, 51, were killed in the crash while 43 students and chaperones were injured.
The driver of the dump truck has not been charged with any crime. Prosecutors say the dump truck was traveling in a center lane of the interstate.
The bus was one of three carrying fifth graders on a class trip to Waterloo Village.
Investigators say the buses exited Route 80 West onto Route 206 North and then missed an exit for Waterloo last Thursday morning. The three buses then separated but only Muldrow's bus never reached the destination.
Investigators say Muldrow ended up driving south on Route 206 and got back onto Route 80 West.
As he entered the interstate from the 206 ramp, Muldrow turned the bus "in an almost-perpendicular direction" in an apparent effort to cross the median and get on Route 80 East.
Police were called about 10:20 a.m. after the dump truck hit the bus, which separated from its undercarriage and came to rest on its side.
Prosecutors say the full extent of all the injuries have yet to be determined, but they range from minor to serious and life-threatening.
Muldrow's attorney on Thursday said his client is "presumed innocent of the charges."
"Last Thursday’s accident is a truly tragic event. We mourn the loss of life and our thoughts and prayers are with the families so affected. Likewise, that extends to all those that were injured in this accident," Matthew Resig, of Freehold, said in a written statement.
"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."
If found guilty, Muldrow could face five to 10 years in prison on the death-by-auto charges.
Muldrow's driving history included eight speeding tickets and 14 license suspensions for non-moving violations. His most recent moving violation — a speeding ticket — was in 2001.
The funeral for Williamson was held on Thursday in Paramus. A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Thursday night at Paramus High School.
NBC 4 New York reported that the lawyer representing the Vargas family filed a notice of tort claim with the Paramus school board and the borough of Paramus, a sign that the family is planning to file a lawsuit.