Driver in New Jersey school b
Driver in fatal New Jersey school bus crash had 14
WOODLAND PARK, N.J. — The reported driver of the New Jersey school bus that collided with a dump truck last week, leaving two dead, has a long history of tickets, moving violations and license suspensions, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission confirmed Tuesday.
The bus driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Paterson, N.J., has had his license suspended 14 times since he began driving in 1975, said Mairin Bellack, a commission spokesperson. Muldrow has eight speeding tickets on his record, as well as one careless driving ticket and a summons for unsafe operation of a motor vehicle, from 2003, Bellack said.
Six license suspensions were because of unpaid parking tickets, including Muldrow’s most recent, which lasted from Dec. 20, 2017, to Jan. 3, 2018. The state also once suspended his commercial driver’s license for administrative reasons, Bellack said.
Muldrow, whom a source identified Tuesday as the driver, was ferrying dozens of East Brook Middle School fifth graders on a field trip to Waterloo Village, a historic 19th century canal tow, when Thursday's accident occurred in Morris County, N.J.
May 20: Why was Paramus school bus crash so violent? Buses vulnerable to side impact, experts say
Hudy Muldrow Jr., Muldrow's son, was the first to reportedly identify his father in the crash. He declined to comment Tuesday about the crash.
Muldrow appears to have missed the village's highway exit at the time of the crash, which sheared the bus from its wheelbase and crushed the dump truck's front end. The crash killed Miranda Vargas, 10, and Jennifer Marie Williamson Kennedy, 51, and injured 43 others.
According to NJ.com, a state transportation department video shows the bus merging from Route 206 onto Interstate 80 before turning at a nearly perpendicular angle toward a crossover area. Police use the area for turnarounds but civilian turns are not allowed, the Associated Press reported.
Many of those injured have been released from area hospitals. But those with the most serious injuries remain hospitalized.
Muldrow's license is valid, according to the Motor Vehicle Commission. But it remains unclear what charges, if any, he could face for the accident.
Two dead in Mount Olive crash involving Paramus school bus
A school bus carrying middle school students from Paramus was ripped from its chassis in an accident with a dump truck on Route 80 west May 17, 2018. Bob Karp/Daily Record
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees Commercial Driver's License regulations, he could lose his commercial license for a year if he’s convicted of negligent driving that results in a fatality.
The Morris County Prosecutor's Office is handling the investigation, but has been exceptionally tight-lipped about its findings. No new information has been released since Friday.
Police declined to comment on the department of transportation video, which has not been publicly released.
Though investigators have not announced charges or moving violations relating to the crash, both Muldrow and the school board that employs him could face a civil suit.
May 19: 10-year-old Miranda Vargas, 'beautiful, gentle soul,' identified as victim in New Jersey bus crash
David Fried, the Vargas family’s attorney, said Tuesday he was investigating a possible legal basis for a lawsuit.
“One would simply be for the negligent operation by the bus driver,” said Fried. “He was their employee so they will be responsible for his negligence.”
But some cautioned against rushing to judgment about the accident’s cause, regardless of Muldrow’s prior record or his age.
“Presumably, if he can maintain a CDL, he was passing all the qualifications,” said Steve Carrellas, head of the New Jersey chapter of the National Motorists Association. “If everything was OK, this is just one of those things that clearly could have been avoided, even after the missed exit … it was just bad judgment."
Muldrow needed a commercial driver’s license to legally drive a school bus. And he had met the host of necessary medical and physical requirements, like having at least 20/40 vision in each eye (with or without corrective lenses), 70 degrees of peripheral vision in each eye and the ability to recognize red, green and amber colors.
May 17: Student, teacher dead after school bus-dump truck crash Mount Olive, New Jersey
Applicants must pass a criminal history background check to get a CDL. And federal law requires school bus drivers to always carry a signed medical examiner’s fitness statement, which is to be renewed every two years. Bus drivers also are required to obtain passenger and school bus endorsements, which verify the background and health information.
Drivers must be at least 21 years old with three years of driving experience to get a commercial driver's license. Although there is no mandatory retirement age, the commission can suspend a driver’s endorsement for many reasons, including the discovery of a medical issue, a criminal history or a poor driving record.
Despite his previous record, Muldrow had no active points on his license, the commission said.
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