In the weeks following the horrific New Jersey school bus accident that killed 2 and injured 43 others, new findings have started to shed light on the potential causes of this wreck and liability for it.
While investigations are ongoing, here are the latest details that are currently known about this fatal crash.
Update #1 – The Bus Driver Reportedly Made an Illegal U-Turn Immediately before the Crash.
According to authorities, the bus driver missed the exit he planned on taking and allegedly made an illegal U-turn, turning left onto a median break that’s only intended for emergency vehicles.
Attorneys representing the bus driver say there is no evidence that an illegal U-turn was made, and authorities have not yet disclosed what evidence led them to making this conclusion.
Update #2 – The Bus Driver Is Facing Two Criminal Charges of Vehicular Homicide.
These charges have been filed by prosecutors in Morris County for the 10-year-old student and the 51-year-old-year teacher who were killed in the bus wreck. The bus driver was released from jail on Wednesday May 30th, pending trial, with the conditions of his release including:
- No contact with the crash victims
- The surrender of his driver’s license
- Bimonthly check-ins with pretrial services.
A trial date has yet to be set in this criminal case. If the case does proceed to trial and end a conviction, however, the driver could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison (10 years for each vehicular homicide charge).
Update #3 – The Bus Driver Has a History of Traffic Violations & License Suspensions.
Additional investigations have revealed that, since 1975, the bus driver has incurred:
- 16 traffic violations – Half of these violations were issued for speeding.
- 14 driver’s license suspensions – The most recent suspension, which spanned from December 2017 through January 2018, was related to unpaid parking tickets. According to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, the other 13 license suspensions were due to administrative reasons (rather than moving violations).
Further investigations into the bus driver’s driving record have also revealed that:
- Before the May 17th bus accident, the driver has been in five accidents in New Jersey alone. It is unclear, however, whether the driver was at fault any of those crashes.
- The bus driver has been endorsed to drive school buses in New Jersey since 2013.
- At the time of the crash, the bus driver did not have any points on his driving record, and his license (including his endorsement to drive school buses) was valid.
Update #4 – The Paramus School Board Says It Was Unaware of the Driver’s Past Violations & License Suspensions.
Given the bus driver’s driving record, many are now raising questions about what the School Board knew about the driver’s history of traffic violations and license suspensions – and whether the Board conducted sufficient due diligence prior to hiring this driver.
According to the Paramus Public School District Superintendent Dr. Michele Robinson, the School Board and District had no knowledge of the bus driver’s prior traffic violations and suspensions. In a statement given to CNN, Dr. Robinson stated:
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. If these news reports are true, our community and our children deserved better than to receive incomplete information about his record.
Update #5 – Civil Action Has Already Been Taken on Behalf of at Least One Crash Victim.
A civil wrongful death lawsuit has already been filed by the husband of the teacher who was killed in this crash. This case will likely pave the way for additional civil actions to be filed on behalf of the 44 other victims of this crash.
As the public awaits more answers about the causes of this crash – and the outcomes of the related criminal and civil cases, the Paramus accident & injury lawyers at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, P.C. continue to extend the deepest condolences to the victims, their families and the community.
We also want all accident survivors to know that we are here for them, ready to provide them with:
- Clear answers and essential advice regarding their legal options for justice and financial recovery
- Extraordinary representation and advocacy in the pursuit of compensation for their injuries and losses.
To find out more about how our renowned team of exceptional lawyers can help you after any type of accident, simply call (201) 890-4838 or email us for a FREE, confidential, no obligations consultation.