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School bus crash victim testifies to lawmakers about safety

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TRENTON -

School bus safety is the focus in Trenton this week following the recent tragedy involving the Paramus School District, and an 11-year-old crash victim garnered much of the attention.

Peter Caminiti is a 5th-grader who survived the I-80 school bus crash in Mt. Olive. 

Peter made sure his voice was heard Monday, testifying before both the Senate and Assembly Transportation Chairmen. 

RELATED: 11-year-old school bus crash survivor calls for better seat belts
RELATED: Report: Paramus superintendent knew of driver’s spotty record before bus crash
RELATED: Bus driver in fatal I-80 school bus crash released pending trial

The May 17th crash killed one of his schoolmates and a teacher. 

Peter was diagnosed with a concussion and hospitalized for three days.

He talked of his experience during and after the crash, before lobbying for 3-point harness seat belts and identification for all school kids, telling legislators the safety concern is obvious.

"When I was in the hospital, I sat thinking that seatbelts on the buses aren't as safe as the ones that are in my mom and dad's cars," says Peter. "Their cars have seatbelts called 3-point harnesses. Buses only have 2-point harnesses. If my mom or dad stop short in their cars, my body only moves a little bit. When the bus stopped short, my upper body hurls forward and hits the seat in front of me. Why would we make the buses that carry kids less safe than the cars that out parents drive us around in?"

Peter says one thing he remembers about the crash is hanging from his seatbelt as first responders rushed into the bus.

The committee will continue discussion and is expected to vote on the legislation calling for lap and shoulder seat belts on school buses.

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