News 12's Most-Viewed: #1 - Authorities investigate if bus driver made illegal U-turn before deadly crash

<p>Investigators in northern New Jersey are looking into whether a school bus driver attempted to make an illegal U-turn on Interstate 80 just before colliding with a dump truck, according to two officials briefed on the situation.</p>

News 12 Staff

May 17, 2018, 2:52 PM

Updated 2,164 days ago

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News 12 Digital is highlighting the most-viewed stories of 2018 as part of our 'News 12's Most-Viewed' series. This story on the investigation into a deadly bus crash was first published on May 17. Original story below.
Officials in northern New Jersey have released few details about the cause of a deadly school bus crash in Mount Olive Thursday. But sources tell News 12 New Jersey that it is possible that the driver tried to make a U-turn on Interstate-80 using the cutout in the highway median.
The bus was one of three from East Brook Middle School in Paramus heading to Waterloo Village in Stanhope for a class field trip. It is believed that the driver may have missed the exit and tried to correct that mistake. The crash happened very close to Exit 25 when the bus collided with a dump truck.
A teacher and a student were killed and over 40 others were injured.
News 12 New Jersey has confirmed that the 10-year-old girl who lost her life in the crash was Miranda Vargas. A GoFundMe campaign set up for her family had already exceeded its $20,000 goal by thousands of dollars Friday night. The teacher was Jennifer Williamson Kennedy.
Longtime accident investigator Donald Phillips with National Forensic Engineers is not involved in the accident investigation. But he tells News 12 New Jersey that he believes the theory of the illegal U-turn to be “preposterous.”
Phillips says that it is hard to imagine a school bus driver making such a dangerous maneuver. He also says that investigators still have a lot of information to put together to determine the cause of the crash.
Investigators will have to take data from the Engine Control Module on the dump truck. This will show at what speed the truck was traveling prior to the crash. It will also determine if the truck driver hit the brakes before impact. Investigators will also have to look at the chassis of the bus, to see if the damage is consistent with it being struck while making a U-turn.
The New Jersey State Police and Morris County Prosecutor’s Office are both investigating the crash.


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