Paramus school district to improve bus safety after deadly crash

Posted: Updated:

A Bergen County school district has moved to improve the safety of its buses following a deadly crash as state lawmakers advance their own sets of safety bills.

The Paramus Board of Education approved several new safety measures Monday, including stricter background checks for drivers and the purchase of three-point seat belts for all buses.

The changes come in the wake of the deadly May 17 crash in Mount Olive. A student and teacher were killed and over 40 others injured. The fifth-grade class at East Brook Middle School was on the way Waterloo Village for a field trip at the time.

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A gala event took place in Paramus Tuesday night as a way to bring the community together and to raise money for a future memorial at East Brook Middle School.

The event was organized and thrown by the Paramus restaurant Biagio’s.

"Some people were emotionally upset and affected.  Others were physically affected,” says organizer Paula Perides. "So many people affected. We felt this is the best way to give to our community."

One of the gala attendees was 11-year-old Peter Caminiti. The boy was on the bus when it crashed. He testified at the State House Monday in front of lawmakers to call for greater safety for school buses.

“I'm proud of myself. I know I did something that most adults can't do. It makes me proud to know that,” Peter says.

Peter’s father says the lawmakers heard what his son had to say.

“They took all he said to heart and did everything to make sure the buses being ordered have three-point harnesses, and all in the fleet are retrofitted to have three-point harnesses,” says his father Peter Caminiti Jr.

Investigators say the crash was caused by bus driver Hudy Muldrow when he missed a turn then crossed three lanes of traffic on Interstate 80 to attempt an illegal U-turn. The bus collided with a dump truck, and the impact tore the bus apart.

His lawyer has said there is no evidence he was trying to turn onto the median.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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