PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The driver in last month’s deadly school bus crash in New Jersey was deemed ineligible to drive for a period of time, according to a published report.
New documents obtained by The Record show back in December, the state Department of Education notified Paramus Schools Superintendent Michele Robinson that Hudy Muldrow Sr. was ineligible to drive.
It stated the Motor Vehicle Commission had revoked or suspended his license and that his medical certification had expired, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported.
But Robinson claimed last month that she wasn’t aware of any prior issues with his driving record.
“It did not show moving violations,” she said last month. “It indicated he was a driver in good standing and eligible to drive with us.”
Another document sent to the superintendent shows Muldrow’s driving eligibility was reinstated in January.
Robinson issued a statement to CBS2 on Friday:
“As I previously said in response to news reports that Mr. Muldrow had multiple moving violations, we had no information that Mr. Muldrow had any moving violations. We received a letter from the state on the eve of winter recess that his license was briefly suspended for reasons that had nothing to do with moving violations or his driving ability,” she said in the statement. “He submitted his medical form over winter break, after which we were notified by the state, first verbally and then in writing, that he was a driver in good standing and eligible to operate a school bus. Nothing in my previous statement is contradicted by the documents. It is my responsibility to provide you and our community with the most accurate and detailed information we have and ask that anything we say be reported accurately in turn.”
CBS2 has also reached out to the state DOE, but has not heard back.
The 77-year-old Muldrow faces two counts of vehicular homicide stemming from the May 17 crash that happened as he was driving one of three buses taking fifth-graders on a field trip from East Brook Middle School in Paramus.
According to an affidavit filed by New Jersey state police, Muldrow missed a turn for the Waterloo Village historic site and tried to make an illegal U-turn on the interstate.
After missing the turn, authorities said Muldrow merged onto Interstate 80 in Mount Olive. He quickly crossed three lanes toward a break in the median reserved for emergency vehicles to attempt an illegal U-turn, the affidavit says.
Muldrow’s attorney argued at his detection hearing Wednesday that there is no evidence his client was attempting to make a left turn onto the median in an area restricted for emergency vehicles.
Muldrow, according to the document, “disregarded the marked No Turn sign” and turned his bus “to the left in an apparent attempt to gain access to an official-use only access point.”
It adds that Muldrow turned his bus “so that it was positioned in an almost-perpendicular direction in relation to the lanes of travel” on westbound I-80.
The bus collided with a dump truck and the impact tore the bus apart. Ten-year-old Miranda Vargas and 51-year-old teacher Jennifer Williamson were killed and more than 40 others were injured, some seriously.
Muldrow has had his license suspended 14 times between 1975 and 2017, mostly for administrative reasons, according to state motor vehicle records. One was caused by a moving violation, according to the MVC.
The most recent license suspension was in December for failing to pay parking tickets. He also had eight speeding violations between 1975 and 2001.
On Wednesday, Muldrow’s attorney, Matthew Reisig, defended it as an “above average” driving record and noted the speeding tickets spanned 43 years and none had resulted in a license suspension.
State Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor noted that the court’s pretrial assessment had recommended release, but he added the condition that Muldrow surrender his personal and commercial licenses.
“I’m not at all comfortable with Mr. Muldrow operating any sort of motor vehicle,” he said.
Muldrow has since been released from the Morris County jail, where he had been held since his arrest last week. He will be required to report to court personnel twice a month.
CBS2 has also reached out to the Motor Vehicle Commission.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)