LODI, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey father whose daughter was killed in a school bus crash is calling for laws to help keep children safe.
The goal is to keep bus drivers who repeatedly break the rules of the road from getting behind the wheel, CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported Tuesday.
A father’s anguish.
“This selfish act of negligence took the life of my baby,” Joevanny Vargas said.
A somber Vargas spoke Tuesday about the bus crash on May 17 that claimed the life of his beloved daughter Miranda, a 10-year-old fifth grader from Paramus. He stood with a group of New Jersey lawmakers who are working to pass new legislation to make school buses safer.
“We are furious, broken and lost,” Joevanny Vargas said.
Miranda Vargas and her classmates were on a field trip when she and a teacher were killed, following a collision between her school bus and a dump truck on I-80 in Mount Olive. The impact ripped the bus apart.
The school bus driver, Hudy Muldrow Sr., was charged with vehicular homicide.
Muldrow allegedly tried to make an illegal U-turn over the center median when the bus was struck by the speeding truck.
The New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission said Muldrow had a history of driving infractions, including 14 license suspensions and eight speeding tickets.
“If you have your license suspended 14 times you should not be driving our children to school,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff).
On Tuesday in Lodi, lawmakers outlined a series of bills designed to keep kids safer on buses, including a federal proposal known as “Miranda’s Law,” which would create an employee notification system that would let school districts know within 24 hours when a bus driver’s license is suspended.
On a state level, there’s a bill calling for tougher standards, saying if a bus driver is convicted of three moving violations in a three-year period or if they accumulate six points on their license during that period, their ability to drive a bus would be suspended.
Just last month, a new law was signed requiring three-point seat belts with across-the-shoulder protection to be phased in. It would be mandatory for all new school buses in New Jersey.
Of course, none of that can take away the profound pain and sorrow Joevanny Vargas said he lives with every day.
“Today it’s my daughter. Tomorrow it could be yours,” Vargas said.
But, he said, it’s a necessary start that Miranda would have wanted.
Lawmakers told CBS2 they hope the bus safety legislation they are proposing could come up for a vote and pass sometime this fall.