Paramus: A school bus driver pleaded guilty Monday to causing the wrong-way bus crash on Interstate 80 last year that killed a student and teacher from Paramus.
Hudy Muldrow Sr., 79, pleaded guilty in Superior Court in Morristown to two counts of reckless vehicular homicide, five counts of assault by auto, and endangering the welfare of children. The state has recommended a 10-year prison term, half of which will be subject to the No Early Release Act.
Twenty additional assault by auto charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal. He will be sentenced in early February.
Muldrow admitted to attempting to make an illegal U-turn across Interstate 80 after missing his exit while driving from Paramus to Waterloo Village in Stanhope in May 2018. A dump truck hit the bus, killing Social studies teacher Jennifer Williamson and fifth-grade student Miranda Vargas.
Another 43 students and staffers were injured in the wreck.
Family members present for the hearing left the courtroom without speaking to reporters.
A group of family and friends wearing blue “Paramus Strong” t-shirts and buttons cried as Muldrow’s lawyer recounted the crash in detail, and as Muldrow pleaded guilty to the eight counts against him. Williamson’s husband, Kevin, sat with his head in his hands, and left the courtroom before the hearing concluded.
Joevanny Vargas, Miranda’s father, sat stoically in the courtroom, occasionally covering his hands in his face. Once court adjourned, Vargas broke into tears as he hugged a woman.
Muldrow has been banned from driving as a condition of his pre-trial release, and will likely lose his license for an additional two years after he completes his prison term. Between 1975 and 2017, his license was suspended 14 times, state motor vehicle records show.
Muldrow also faces a number of civil suits. At least eight lawsuits have been filed against the Paramus Board of Education, and attorneys said in court on Monday they expect a number of suits to be filed against Muldrow personally.
Judge Stephen Taylor did not rule on whether Muldrow’s guilty plea will be admissible in those cvil cases; a decision will be made at the time of sentencing, Taylor said.