Dad of girl killed in I-80 bus crash teams with Gottheimer in push for bus safety

Posted: Updated:
WESTWOOD -

A father who lost his daughter in a deadly school bus crash on I-80 in Mount Olive last year is teaming up with a congressman to pledge a new campaign meant to keep children safe on school buses.

Miranda Vargas' father, Joevanny Vargas, joined Rep. Josh Gottheimer to announce they're working to make three-point seat belts a national requisite. Miranda, 10, was killed in the bus crash while on a school trip with students and staff from East Brook Middle School in Paramus.

On a statewide level, school bus safety laws were passed immediately in response to the crash. Three-point seat belts, which are lap and shoulder belts, are now required on all newly built school buses in New Jersey.

Other bills include requiring drivers and aides in New Jersey to take two safety classes a year and requiring bus drivers to submit medical records. Those over the age of 70 have to show proof of health frequently.

Also, if a school bus driver has their license suspended or revoked, the school board must verify to the state's Department of Education that the driver no longer operates a bus for it.

Joevanny says he's working with Gottheimer to put three-point seat belts on all buses and to create detection systems to ensure all children on a bus are wearing them. They also want strengthened background checks and enforcement on school bus drivers.

Prosecutors say the bus driver, Hudy Muldrow, missed a turn on the highway and was trying to make an illegal U-turn when the bus slammed into a dump truck. A teacher, Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy, was also killed in the crash.

Muldrow had 14 license suspensions at the time of the crash.

Joevanny says he's going to testify in front of Congress and any committee and do as much as it takes to get Miranda's Law and the Secures Act of 2018 passed.

Muldrow pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for this fall.

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