PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey school bus driver was arraigned Friday on charges in connection with a crash that killed a student and a teacher.
Hudy Muldrow Sr., 77, walked slowly into the courtroom Friday as he appeared before a judge on two charges of death by auto. He held his head down and answered questions softly.
Investigators say Muldrow and two other bus drivers got off at the wrong exit on Interstate 80 while taking students and teachers from East Brook Middle School in Paramus on a class trip to Waterloo Village.
Authorities said Muldrow got back onto Route 80, entering the ramp. Police say Muldrow then cut across almost three lanes of traffic to attempt an illegal U-turn across the median reserved for emergency vehicles only.
Authorities said the bus “was positioned in an almost-perpendicular direction in relation to the lanes of travel on Route 80 Westbound.”
Outside the courthouse, a lawyer for the Vargas family announced their intentions to file a lawsuit against the Paramus school board and the town.
Muldrow had a long history of violations, including moving tickets and license suspensions. Questions remain about why the district did not know about it, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.
“Certainly should raise red flags with anyone considering hiring him to drive — that if he’s that unwilling to follow the rules that we all have to follow to maintain our drivers’ licenses, why do we think he’d be careful in taking care of our children when he’s driving them?” lawyer David Fried said.
Muldrow had a valid commercial license at the time of the crash.
The superintendent of schools says all they were told is that he was a driver in good standing and eligible to operate a school bus.
School bus drivers undergo state and federal background checks, which are submitted to the Department of Education for approval. A medical exam is also required every two years, and driving records are reviewed dating back five years, Baker reported.
Muldrow’s pastor says many have questioned the 77-year-old’s age.
“When he was up and about, you would have thought he was 60,” said Elder Willie Clark. “I think he must have been shocked the day he got indicted because he really didn’t think he did anything wrong.”
On Friday, the Paramus community continues to come together preparing shirts, signs and magnets for a fundraiser Saturday to raise money for the injured.
Thursday night, more than 1,000 people gathered for a vigil at the high school remembering the victims and celebrating the survivors.