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Bus Driver Who Killed 2 Charged In Wreck

The 77-year-old school bus driver who was involved in a double-fatality wreck on May 17 has now been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide. A 52-year-old teacher and 10-year-old student died in the collision that also injured 40 others on the bus - some seriously.

According to law enforcement, the driver traveled across three lanes of traffic on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive approximately 45 miles west of New York City as he attempted to illegally make a U-turn.

Nightmare field trip

When the tragic collision occurred, the Paramus middle schoolers were part of a three-bus caravan of teachers and students on their field trip to an historic New Jersey site located approximately 30 miles from the crash site.

The New Jersey state troopers investigating the accident determined that the driver missed his turn and then merged onto I-80. He cut across the lanes of traffic in order to get to the section of median that has a gap allowing access to emergency vehicles.

An affidavit filed in the case states that the bus driver "disregarded the marked No Turn sign" and turned "to the left in an apparent attempt to gain access to an official-use only access point."

The affidavit further alleges that the senior citizen behind the wheel positioned his bus during the maneuver "so that it was . . . almost perpendicular . . . in relation to the [westbound] lanes of travel" on the interstate. A dump truck then slammed violently into the bus.

The force of the impact sheared the wheelbase off the bus. The dump truck's front end was smashed and the bus came to rest on the eastbound side of the interstate on top of the guardrail.

Why was he driving?

Authorities revealed that the school bus driver has a significant history of suspensions of his driver's license and other violations.

As reflected by records from the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles, in the 42 years from 1975-2017, the man's driver's license was suspended no fewer than 14 times. The bulk of those suspensions appears to have been for administrative reasons. As recently as December of last year, his license was pulled for not paying his parking tickets. Additionally, he was ticketed eight times for speeding between 1975-2001.

A review of the Motor Vehicle Commission records indicates that in the past decade, the bus driver received three moving violations - careless driving, making an improper turn and no seat belt usage. None of those violations led to his suspensions or caused any accidents.

On the day the wreck occurred, the driver had full driving privileges, which included a current commercial driver's license (CDL) and valid school bus endorsement. He had his CDL for the past six years and earned his school bus endorsement five years ago. The endorsements are only issued to drivers who pass a road test, written test and a background check.

Parents, take action

Were your children harmed or at risk while riding on transportation provided by their schools? If so, you may be able to pursue compensation from any at-fault drivers.

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