PARAMUS, N.J. — Two years after a nightmarish school bus crash involving a fifth-grade Paramus class and their chaperones resulted in the deaths of educator Jennifer Williamson and student Miranda Vargas, Williamson’s brother has filed a lawsuit against the involved drivers and state and local officials claiming negligence, recklessness and carelessness.
According to NJ.com, Douglas Williamson is suing ex-school bus driver Hudy Muldrow, Sr., along with the operator of a dump truck with whom he collided, his superiors at Mendez Trucking, school officials, the State of New Jersey, and Bergen and Morris Counties. The attorneys seek unspecified monetary damages for losses sustained by Williamson’s family.
On the morning of May 17, 2018, Muldrow was behind the wheel of a school bus that had been shuttling a fifth-grade class of 44 students and staff on Route 80 from East Brook Middle School en route to Waterloo Village for a field trip. After missing the exit, Muldrow, 79, unwittingly attempted to make an illegal U-turn on the highway in Mount Olive, crossing over three lanes of traffic and hitting a dump truck. The school bus landed on its side on a grassy median and ripped apart at its chassis. What resulted was a bus full of screaming children hanging from their seat belts, all of whom sought medical attention with a few who were in critical condition. Vargas, 10, and Williamson, 51, died in the crash.
According to the suit, which was filed on April 30 in Superior Court and obtained by NJ.com, Williamson contends that “officials should have known that Muldrow was an unsafe driver and that his operation of a school bus was substantially certain to result in injury.” It also states, according to the news website, that the Paramus School Board “negligently and carelessly hired” Muldrow. The suit also accuses the state’s education, transportation and motor vehicle departments and county leaders in Bergen and Morris of “gross negligence and recklessness.”
To date, over a dozen civil lawsuits have been filed against Muldrow by parents and teachers.
Earlier this year, Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor sentenced Muldrow to up to 10 years in prison and license suspension for two years after that. In December, Muldrow pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless vehicular homicide, five counts of assault by auto, and endangering the welfare of children.
Muldrow reportedly had a string of driver’s license suspensions and numerous speeding tickets dating back 45 years. He is eligible for parole in August 2024.