New Jersey school bus driver in deadly crash released from custody

PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- The driver of a school bus that collided with a dump truck on a New Jersey highway last week, killing a student and a teacher and injuring more than 40 others, has been released from custody pending trial.

Hudy Muldrow Sr., 77, is being released per the state's bail reform law that went into effect in 2016 and effectively abolished bail. Instead, officials now look at a number of factors, including the likelihood that a defendant will flee, commit new criminal activity, or obstruct justice by intimidating victims and other witnesses. Previously, whether or not a defendant would stay in jail was determined by their ability to pay bail, which was supposed to be an incentive for defendants to show up to court.

He does face conditions as part of his released, including no contact with survivors and he cannot get a duplicate license.

Muldrow faces two counts of death by auto.

If his case does go to trial and he's found guilty, Muldrow faces five to 10 years behind bars on each of the counts.

The families of the victims filled the first row of the courtroom as Muldrow sat for his detention hearing. Many of his 10 adult children filled the remaining rows, anticipating his release which the prosecutor asked the court to deny.

A criminal affidavit alleges Muldrow missed a turn and tried to make a U-turn on Interstate 80 westbound on May 17 while carrying a group of fifth-graders and chaperones on a field trip.

Ten-year-old Miranda Vargas and 51-year-old teacher Jennifer Williamson died in the crash.

The judge had to decide if Muldrow is a flight risk or too dangerous to society to be released on bail. Muldrow's attorney argued no, that he has no criminal record and will no longer be behind a wheel.

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