Huddy Muldrow

Mack Rosenberg/WCBS 880

Driver In Fatal New Jersey School Bus Crash Released Pending Trial

May 30, 2018 - 1:10 pm

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (WCBS 880/AP) -- The driver of a New Jersey school bus that collided with a truck, killing a student and teacher, has been released pending a possible trial.

But a judge ordered Hudy Muldrow to surrender his personal and professional driver's licenses Wednesday. He has been advised to avoid all contact with the victims' families and he will be monitored by the court twice per month -- once by phone, once in person.

Muldrow is charged with death by auto stemming from the May 17 crash on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive.

Authorities allege the 77-year-old Muldrow missed a turn and tried to make an illegal U-turn on the interstate. The bus collided with a dump truck, and the impact tore the bus apart. The bus was one of three carrying fifth-graders on a field trip. The other two buses weren't involved in the accident. 

Wednesday's court hearing lasted about two hours. Emotions were high as family members and loved ones of both the victims and the bus driver were in the courtroom. One person had to be subdued by court officers because he was crying while the defense attorney was making his argument, WCBS 880's Mack Rosenberg reported.

Prosecutors had sought to have Muldrow detained. They cited his history of driving infractions and claimed he posed a flight risk.

Muldrow's license had been suspended 14 times since 1975. Six of those suspensions resulted from unpaid parking tickets. He also racked up eight speeding tickets over the years. 

Morris County First Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Troiano argued that the bus crash was not an accident and that Muldrow acted recklessly and purposely in his actions.

“Mr. Muldrow knew exactly what he was doing when he operated that bus, that he consciously made a decision to turn that bus to the left in an almost-90-degree fashion to drive it, essentially, the wrong way across a major highway,” Troiano said.

Troiano also called his driving record "atrocious" and "disturbing."

On the other side, defense attorney Matthew Reisig described that same driving history as above average.

But Judge Taylor disagreed, saying it was terrible.

Reisig had numerous misunderstandings with State Superior Court Judge Stephen J. Taylor – most notably, perhaps, when Reisig argued that Muldrow never told the other two bus drivers of his intentions to make an illegal U-turn on Route 80.

Judge Taylor then questioned that.

“In the context of your argument to the court, you’re making the point that the defendant, as I understand, you’re saying, did not have an opportunity or did not tell bus driver one or bus driver three that he tried to gain access to the cut-through,” Taylor said.

“And so your question to me is what, sir?” Reisig said.

“Did he have an opportunity to do so?” Taylor said. “My understanding is he was taken to the hospital.”

Still, in the end, Taylor did decide the state did not meet its burden to prove that Muldrow should remain in custody.

His next court appearance will be June 25 for a pre-indictment conference.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)