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Driver in fatal I-80 school bus crash appears in court

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PARAMUS -

The driver of a school bus that collided with a dump truck on Interstate-80 last week, killing a student and a teacher and injuring more than 40 others, was in court Friday to appear on two death-by-auto charges.

Hudy Muldrow Sr., 77, shuffled slowly into a Morristown court with his hands and ankles cuffed. He spoke very softly while answering the judge’s questions.

Prosecutors say that Muldrow missed a turn and tried to make a U-turn on I-80 westbound while carrying a group of fifth-graders and chaperones from East Brook Middle School in Paramus on a field trip to Waterloo Village.

Miranda Vargas, age 10, and 51-year-old teacher Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy died in the crash.

RELATED: Paramus school bus driver charged for deaths in I-80 crash
RELATED: Driver in deadly school bus crash had license suspended 14 times
MORE: Horrific bus crash tests responders, equipment

Miranda Vargas’s family was in court for the hearing. The girl’s father was wearing sunglasses inside the courtroom, but took them off when Muldrow entered. He kept his gaze locked on the driver.

“[Mr. Vargas] is not a man of anger.  He's not a vicious man.  He's a peaceful man but this was hard for him to sit there and not want to get some sort of revenge. But he's not that type of man,” said David Fried, an attorney for the Vargas family.

The Vargas family says that they want to see Muldrow face prison time for his alleged role in the crash. They are also taking action against Paramus and the Board of Education.

“Mr. Vargas said to me the other day, ‘This is the future of America and they're being put into the hands of people who…probably had no business being a bus driver,’” Fried said.

Muldrow’s family and friends were also in court and defended him, saying that he would never intentionally hurt children. They said that they do not think he belongs in jail.

Prosecutor Matthew Troiano says additional charges stemming from other injuries in the May 17 crash in Mount Olive could be coming.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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