HUDSON COUNTY - The parents of a little girl killed in a tragic accident involving a jitney bus took part in a special ceremony commemorating the signing of a bill named in her honor.
Angelie's Law, which gives authorities the power to regulate bus owners and operators for the first time, was unveiled Thursday. The legislation requires drivers to have background checks and be fingerprinted.
The law is named after Angelie Paredes. The 8-month-old was killed last July when a bus lost control and hit a lamp post that then fell on her stroller. Authorities say the driver was on his cell phone at the time of the crash.
"It took a horrific tragedy to get movement on what our plight was," says State Sen. Nick Sacco. "Rather than go after drivers, we're going after owners. The owners are going to be paying $1,500 to $5,000 fines for every infraction."
State lawmakers had been pushing for years to create more regulations for buses without any success. In the past, only the federal government had the authority to do so.
"The main function of this bill is that if there is an accident, we are able to take the driver to the hospital immediately and draw his blood," says Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari. "Prior to this, we were not able to do that."
The new law will also establish a passenger's bill of rights for commuter buses, along with a hotline passengers and other drivers can call if they witness anything unsafe.
Idowu Daramola, the driver accused of killing Angelie Paredes, is awaiting trial on a charge of death by auto.