WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, on the fourth anniversary of the tragic Paramus school bus crash, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced that he will be introducing Miranda’s Law — bus safety legislation named after Miranda Vargas, a 10-year-old Fifth Grader who lost her life in the 2018 school bus crash on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive Township — to protect children on America’s school buses.
Miranda’s Law will:
- Require seat belts on all school buses nationwide;
- Establish three-point lap-and-shoulder seat belts as the national standard; and,
- Encourage innovative measures to ensure students actually wear their seat belts while on school buses.
“I’m continuing to work to turn tragedy into hope for other children and families. With Miranda’s Law, we can help ensure that every child in America will be as safe as possible aboard a school bus, and we’re giving parents and families more peace of mind,” Gottheimer said. “Miranda’s Law will help save lives, and there’s nothing partisan about that.”
“This is not a New Jersey problem. This is a national problem that needs to be addressed before we’re confronted with another tragedy,” Miranda’s father Joevanny Vargas has said. “This is common sense legislation – it’s not about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about moms and dads.”
Hudy Muldrow, 79, of Newark, NJ, admitted in court that on the morning of May 17, 2018, while acting as a school bus driver for the Paramus School District, he recklessly operated the Paramus school bus, according to Morris County Prosecutor Prosecutor’s office.
Muldrow also admitted in court that his reckless operation of the school bus caused the deaths of two of his passengers, Miranda Faith Vargas, a 5th grade student at East Brook Middle School and Jennifer Williamson, a teacher at East Brook Middle School. He caused injuries to five adult passengers and the driver of a dump truck. He further acknowledged that his conduct created a risk of harm to all 38 children who were passengers on his bus, prosecutor’s office siad.
Muldrow was sentenced in February 2020 to an aggregate term of 10 years in New Jersey State Prison and the first five years of this sentence are subject to the parole ineligibility provisions of the No Early Release Act, Prosecutor’s office said.
Muldrow pled guilty on December 23, 2019 to two counts of second-degree reckless vehicular homicide, one count of third-degree endangering the welfare of children, five counts of fourth-degree assault by auto, and one count of disorderly persons assault by auto, prosecutor’s office said.
Companion legislation has previously been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
Last Congress, Joevanny Vargas, the father of 10-year-old Miranda Vargas who was killed in the Paramus bus crash, as well as Miranda’s twin sister Madison Vargas and Miranda’s grandfather Johnny, visited Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers, alongside Gottheimer, to gather support for bipartisan school bus safety legislation.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed school bus safety provisions based on Gottheimer’s bipartisan legislation within a larger surface transportation package.
The provisions would require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to study the benefits of three-point seatbelts on school buses, determine if they are safer, and to determine whether to issue new regulations requiring seat belts on school buses nationwide. The larger package will not be moving forward in the Senate, so Gottheimer is continuing his fight for standalone school bus seat belt safety legislation.