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Police: Bus driver charged in 10-vehicle South Brunswick wreck didn't look at road for 10 seconds

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Tim Fleischer is live in South Brunswick with the latest

A bus driver believed to be responsible for a 10-vehicle wreck in South Brunswick last week surrendered to police on Monday and was charged in connection with the crash.

Seven people were hurt, two of them seriously, in the accident, which happened at Route 130 and Friendship Road at 6:30 a.m. last Thursday and left several cars mangled. First responders attended to victims in nine crushed cars after authorities say a Coach USA bus driven by 30-year-old Jamal Penten barreled through two lanes of cars.

Penten, of Lakewood, is charged with assault by auto.

South Brunswick police say Penten was driving the bus recklessly at the time he struck the line of vehicles and that the investigation determined he was driving 50 miles per hour when he became distracted for more than 1,000 feet prior to the collision. They say he failed to reduce his speed, brake or take evasive action, and he impacted the first vehicle at full highway speed prior to applying his brakes.

He traveled another 200 feet and struck a total of nine vehicles that were stopped or slowing for the red traffic signal at Friendship Road.

Two drivers, a 35-year-old man and a 61-year-old, were seriously injured and remain at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. The hospital confirms they are now listed in good condition.

"This crash only highlights the dangers of distracted driving," Chief Raymond Hayducka said. "Drivers have a responsibility to focus on their driving. This crash was preventable."

Accident investigators determined that for at least 10 seconds prior to the crash, this driver was not looking at the highway in front of him.

In addition to the criminal charge of assault by auto, Penten was charged with reckless driving, following too closely and obstruction of traffic. He posted $2,500 bail and was released pending his first court appearance.
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