NBC 4 New York
A close friend of the New Jersey family that lost their infant daughter after a bus crash spoke about their horrific loss. Marc Santia reports.
An 8-month-old baby girl in a stroller was killed Tuesday when an out-of-control bus driver who police said was on the phone slammed into several cars and two light poles, causing one to fall onto the child.
The mother of the baby was pushing the stroller on the sidewalk along East Boulevard in West New York, N.J., when it was hit.
A spokesman for the parents of Angelie Paredes said the mother and child were "as far as you can be from the curb" when the baby was struck.
As the mother "was walking with the baby carriage and the dog, all she heard was two loud sounds -- and then blood and disaster," Julio Morenco, a family friend, said at a press conference held in a park where Angelie often played with her parents.
Angelie's parents were not at the news conference.
The bus driver, identified by the sheriff's office as 48-year-old Idowu Daramola of Thornwood, N.Y., was arrested on charges of reckless driving, using a cell phone while operating a vehicle and death by auto. He was set to be arraigned Wednesday, but the appearance was postponed until Thursday.
"We don't know if he was texting or talking," said Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari. "This is what distracted him, we feel. And he lost control of the bus."
The sheriff's office said there are two open warrants in Hudson for Daramola's arrest, both for picking up or dropping off passengers outside of official bus stops in North Bergen.
Daramola also has numerous other violations on his driving record from the past two years, according to the sheriff's office. In August 2011, he was cited for speeding in Weehaawken; in September 2011, he went through a stop sign, and in June 2012, he was caught on camera going through a red light. It wasn't immediately clear where in Hudson County the last two violations occurred.
On the phone Wednesday, the bus company owner Magdy Abdallah told NBC 4 New York he was never aware of any open warrants for Daramola, who had been employed there two years and had a valid driver's license when he was hired.
"I feel very sorry for the child. I feel really bad," said Abdallah. "I couldn't sleep. I don't know how the accident happened."
"I wish I could see the family to say I'm sorry," he added.
Morenco said Angelie had reached a milestone just weeks ago on a family trip in Florida, captured on home video that Angelie's parents now replay with broken hearts.
"As she's crawling, she finally stands up," he said, describing the video. "And she's chasing the very same heartbroken mom around the room."
Attorney information for Daramola wasn't immediately available. He's being held at the Hudson County Jail on $250,000 cash bail.