NJ school bus driver sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegal interstate U-turn and wreck that killed one teacher and a fifth-grader

The elderly school bus driver whose illegal U-turn on Interstate 80 caused the horrifying wreck that killed a New Jersey teacher and a 10-year-old student was smacked Wednesday with a 10-year prison sentence.

Hudy Muldrow, 79, learned his punishment only after hearing from the heartbroken relatives of the two innocent passengers killed in the May 2018 wreck with a dump truck sailing along the highway. Muldrow was driving teachers and students from a Paramus middle school on a field trip.

The twin sister of 10-year-old crash victim Miranda Vargas told the defendant “I hope you rot in jail” before Muldrow received his decade of prison time. Teacher Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy, 51, was the other person killed in the crash, with another 43 people injured in the violent collision that tore the bus frame right off its wheelbase.

“My heart’s destroyed because of one careless act of a man,” said Lorena Vargas, mother of the dead girl, in her pre-sentencing statement. “Every single night I relive that horrible day. That day I died as well.”

The driver pleaded guilty two months ago to reckless vehicular homicide, assault by auto and child endangerment while admitting that he was “driving the bus sideways” while trying to make a U-turn after missing the exit for an attraction called Waterloo Village.

“Mr. Muldrow, I forgive you,” said the Rev. Johnny Rivera, the grandfather of young victim Miranda. “I have to. Deep down inside, I have to. Do I have to accept what you have done? Absolutely not. Forgiveness and acceptance are two different things.”

Muldrow cut a plea deal with prosecutors before the Morristown, N.J., sentencing hearing where the jail term was handed down. He must serve a minimum of five years before becoming eligible for parole, prosecutors said.

“I’m sorry,” Muldrow told the crowded courtroom. “I have a lot of remorse and I loved those kids that I was driving.”

But his apology for the smash up in Mount Olive, N.J., fell on deaf ears. Dolores Williamson, mother of the teacher killed in the deadly crash, directly addressed Muldrow about the loss of her daughter and its devastating aftermath.

“Everything you can do was taken away from my precious daughter,” said Williamson. ““You took that all away. My heart is broken and my family is shattered and sad.”

*Story by New York Daily News