What to Know
- Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy, the teacher who died in a school bus crash in new Jersey last week, will be laid to rest Thursday
- The 77-year-old school bus driver in the deadly May 17 crash on Route 80 had his license suspended 14 times, including just last December
- The superintendent of the Paramus school district told News 4 officials had no idea of his moving violations
The teacher killed in a school bus crash last week in New Jersey has been laid to rest, one week after the horrific wreck that claimed her life.
The funeral for 51-year-old Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy was held at Our Lady of Visitation R.C. Church in Paramus Thursday morning. Later that night, more than 800 Paramus community members gathered for a vigil, mourning Williamson-Kennedy and 10-year-old Miranda Vargas, the student also killed in the crash. Vargas was laid to rest Monday.
The families of the two victims who died embraced each other and released balloons, and then East Brook Middle School's principal led the students in song.
Williamson-Kennedy was a teacher at East Brook Middle School in Paramus. She died during a class trip to Waterloo Village when the bus she was riding in smashed into a dump truck on I-80 near exit 25 in Mount Olive. Her obituary notes she "taught in the same grade and same classroom in East Brook Middle School for 20 years."
Sixteen-year-old Samantha Settecasi said Williamson-Kennedy was her teacher: "She was a very down-to-earth person, always making sure students were doing what they needed to, doing it right, while they were having fun."
Williamson-Kennedy's husband, Kevin, said he's "in shock, devastated and totally crushed" by the tragedy.
Kennedy said "my beautiful bride and I have been in total love every day of our lives since the day our eyes met on May 5th, 1994."
Investigators are still probing the cause of the crash, which also killed a 10-year-old student. Video from a Department of Transportation camera shows the school bus filled with fifth-graders making a sudden U-turn in a median, sources have told News 4.
The bus was carrying 38 students and seven adults at the time of the wreck. Everyone else on board was injured, some critically.
The school bus driver, Hudy Muldrow Sr., was charged Thursday in the deadly crash.
He had a total of 14 license suspensions, eight speeding tickets, a careless driving ticket and a ticket for an improper turn in 2010, a spokeswoman for the Motor Vehicle Commission told News 4. The most recent suspension was from Dec. 20 of last year to Jan. 3 of this year for unpaid parking tickets.
Muldrow had a commercial driver's license issued in 2012 and got the school bus endorsement on his commercial driver's license in 2013, the MVC said. Muldrow remains in the hospital and was unavailable for comment.
Paramus Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Robinson said the district had no idea of the 77-year-old driver's lengthy history of license suspensions and moving violations.
"I am shocked, saddened and angry to read news reports concerning the school bus driver's driving record. Nothing that was provided to the district by the state reflected that the driver had any moving violations. In fact, all we were told is that he was a driver in good standing and eligible to operate a school bus," Robinson said.
Meanwhile, the lawyer representing the family of 10-year-old Miranda Vargas, who was laid to rest Monday, sent a notice of tort claim to the Borough of Paramus and the Paramus school board Tuesday, indicating the family plans to sue. The lawyer is questioning whether the Paramus Board of Education did proper diligence in hiring a driver with his record.