New Jersey

Shackled 77-Year-Old School Bus Driver Charged in NJ Field Trip Deaths Shuffles Into Court; Prosecutor Says More Charges May Come

Thirty-eight students and seven adults were aboard the bus when it collided with a dump truck on Route 80 on May 17

What to Know

  • The driver of the school bus that crashed last week New Jersey, killing a student and teacher, has been charged with causing their deaths
  • The driver, 77-year-old Harry Muldrow Sr., faces two counts of death by auto in the May 17 crash; prosecutors say more charges may come
  • The driver had his license suspended 14 times, including just last December

The 77-year-old driver behind the wheel of the school bus that collided with a dump truck on a New Jersey highway while trying to make a sudden U-turn in the median last week shuffled slowly into a Morristown court Friday to face charges of causing the death of a 10-year-old twin and teacher. 

Hudy Muldrow Sr. appeared in court with his hands and ankles handcuffed. He was charged a day earlier with two counts of death by auto in the May 17 crash on state Route 80 that left 10-year-old Miranda Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson Kennedy dead, according to authorities.

Vargas' father and Williamson Kennedy's husband sat next to each other in the courtroom as prosecutors said more charges could be coming. Muldrow was ordered held pending another hearing next week. 

He was driving the bus from East Brook Middle School in Paramus to a Waterloo Village, a historic site in Stanhope, at the time of the crash. Thirty-eight students and seven adults were aboard the bus when he allegedly made th sudden U-Turn; a dump truck collided with the bus, knocking it off its chassis. 

An attorney for Muldrow told News 4 Thursday the accident was "a truly tragic event." 

"We mourn the loss of life and our thoughts and prayers are with the families so affected. Likewise, that extends to all those that were injured in this accident," the attorney, Mathew W. Reisig, said in a statement. 

An elder from Muldrow's church, Willie Clark, said he visited the driver on Monday and described him as "broken" and "sad." 

"He wouldn't have had this happen for anything," Clark said. "It's a sad situation all around. We pray for the families who've lost loved ones and those who were hurt." 

Clark said Muldrow told him he didn't realize he had done anything wrong, and described him as a good man who attends Sunday school classes every week. He said he knows many people say Muldrow shouldn't be driving a school bus because of his age, but said, "If you saw him before now he appears to be 60."

Muldrow 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 said. 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.

His arrest Thursday came the same day as Kennedy's funeral. Hundreds attended services for Vargas on Monday, and her parents have sent a notice of tort to Paramus town and school officials indicating they plan to sue. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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