8 New Jersey school bus company drivers lacked credentials, 2 had open warrants

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Friday, May 31, 2019
Investigation: 8 NJ school bus drivers not qualified to drive kids
Darla Miles reports on the investigation into school buses in New Jersey.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- An investigation into school buses contracted to transport children in New Jersey found that several drivers did not have proper credentials -- and two had open warrants, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

Police executed a search warrant Friday at A-1 Elegant, a Paterson-based company that owns and operates buses used in Newark and other parts of the state. They also staged surprise inspections at five other locations in Newark after students were dropped off at school.

The investigation revealed that eight drivers -- more than half of those detained during the inspection -- were not qualified to drive school children. Two bus drivers and a bus aide had open warrants and were taken into custody.

Those detained Friday weren't A-1 Elegant's only unqualified drivers: Last September, driver Wayne Carmichael was arrested after police say he crashed into several vehicles while driving a school bus drunk. He was also driving with a suspended commercial driver license.

Bus routes were canceled Friday afternoon, and now drivers are uncertain if they will have a job come Monday morning.

"I don't know anything. I only came here because today is payday, but they didn't tell me anything about what happened," said Carmin Garcia, a driver.

The bus company was banned from operating in Paterson in 2018, according to Louis Velez, a city councilperson.

"There was a lot of wrongdoing involving inspections, maintaining the vehicles, dropping off and picking up students in the wrong places," Velez said.

Paterson parents were also concerned about the bus company.

"They've made complaints to the advocacy office about the safety of their children. I didn't feel that the drivers had their correct licenses," said Lynda Gallashaw of the Passaic County Civic League.

Eyewitness News called Shelim Khalique, owner of A-1 Elegant, for comment, but the person on the other line hung up.

An investigation is active and ongoing.


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