A fifth-grader who survived a school bus crash that killed a schoolmate and a teacher in New Jersey last month is urging state lawmakers to require seat belts with shoulder straps on buses.
Peter Caminiti provided the first testimony Monday to a joint hearing of the state Assembly and Senate transportation committees. Lawmakers are weighing a number of changes in laws and policy in response to the deadly May 17 crash in Mount Olive.
The 11-year-old Paramus student recounted being suspended by his lap belt and said he suffered a serious head injury. He asked why buses don't have three-point seat belts, saying concerns about costs might be overriding safety.
"You can't put a price on life," Caminiti said.
The New Jersey School Boards Association said districts have limited resources and any new safety measures should be carefully studied. It has not endorsed a proposal to require shoulder straps on buses.
"Sometimes it's difficult to get emotion out of this issue," said Jonathan Pushman, a legislative advocate for the association.
Investigators say the crash was caused by bus driver Hudy Muldrow when he missed a turn then crossed three lanes of traffic on Interstate 80 to attempt an illegal U-turn. The bus collided with a dump truck, and the impact tore the bus apart.
His lawyer has said there is no evidence he was trying to turn onto the median.
The bus was one of three carrying students and teachers from a middle school in Paramus on a field trip to a historic site about 30 miles away.