NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A NJ Transit bus driver is under arrest and charged with vehicular homicide, accused of dragging a passenger who later died.
Latoya Jackson says her father, Kevin Thomas, was her best friend.
“He was a good person. He did whatever he could for everybody. He made everybody laugh,” she told CBS2’s Valerie Castro.
He died on Jan. 6, and the Essex County prosecutor claims 34-year-old Fayola Howard is to blame.
Howard was behind the wheel of an NJ Transit bus on Dec. 31, 2019, when prosecutors say Thomas was caught in the vehicle’s door and dragged.
His daughter says he was taking the bus home and had exited on Sanford Avenue near Mount Vernon Place in Newark when another passenger realized she had left something on the bus.
Jackson says her father tried to help that woman but got stuck in the door.
Prosecutors say despite the victim’s pleas, Howard allegedly drove off and left the scene.
“When he first got hurt, he just had two broken legs,” Jackson said.
Thomas died a week later of medical complications.
Tuesday, prosecutors arrested Howard as she tried to board a flight at Newark Airport and charged her with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene.
“Devastating. It’s heartbreaking. We just deal with it day by day, you know? ‘Cause it’s a tragic– like, we can see if he passed from, like, natural causes, but this was a tragedy and the way it happened was wrong,” Jackson said.
Jackson says the loss of her father came as a shock.
“I could confide in him about anything. Like, if I needed him, he was always there no matter what,” she said.
She says the family with gather together on Thursday and release balloons on what would have been Thomas’ 56th birthday.
NJ Transit officials say once they learned of the allegations against Howard, she was removed from service. She is due in court later this week.