NJ bus crash, illegal U-turn — ‘What was this guy thinking?’ (OPINION)
It's a horrific story. And it has both Jim Gearhart and Bob Williams aghast.
Two people — a fifth-grader and a teacher — are dead after a Paramus school bus was struck by a dump truck on Route 80 in Mount Olive. DOT officials who've seen video footage say the bus quickly crossed three lanes, apparently to make an illegal U-turn.
"You're scratching your head, like, 'What was this guy thinking?" Fast Traffic reporter Bob told Jim when the two paired up for this week's Jim Gearhart Show podcast, available here as well on iTunes and Google Play.
There had been speculation about the U-turn almost from the start. Callers to Deminski and Doyle show spoke early about what a dangerous, horrible mistake trying to make that turn was.
"I was just shuddering when I heard that theory," Bob told Jim. "And as the time went on, it certainly sounded like that."
Here's what we know so far about the crash:
• The 77-year-old driver of the school bus has a record with eight speeding violations and 14 license suspensions.
• The driver's son says his father denies trying to make an illegal turn.
• The company that owns the dump truck has a troubled history of crashes and failed inspections, federal records show. Officials have not formally assigned blame to either party in any public statement.
• The video shows the bus coming from southbound Route 206 onto westbound Route 80 and it appears to try to get to an emergency lane in the median by crossing three lanes of traffic, DOT officials say. The video shows the dump truck striking the bus with such force that the bus rips apart.
• At least one fifth-grade girl has been left with severe head trauma.
• A fifth-grade boy who hasn't been told his teacher is dead continues to recover from severe injuries of his own.
• The 10-year-old who died in the Route 80 school bus crash was remembered as a "beautiful, gentle soul with a passionate love for her family," including her twin sister. The husband of the 51-year-old social studies teacher who died alongside her student was mourned by her husband, who called her "My Beautiful Bride" who "I have been in total love every day of our lives since the day our eyes met on 5/5/94."
• The bus had seat belts, as required by New Jersey law. But some argue the bus should have been required to have shoulder-harness belts as well.
"No matter what happened, it's just an amazing thing," Bob said. "what was the driver thinking?"
Bob said he's "ever seen an accident where a bus, the cab has been physically removed from the chasis of the bus. That was horrific looking."
And that's just part of what Jim takes on in the latest installment of his podcast. Check out the full episode to hear the rest. And email Jim at Jim@NJ1015.com.
The Jim Gearhart Podcast is available every week on New Jersey 101.5 and in the New Jersey 101.5 app. You can also subscribe with your favorite podcasting app for iPhones, Android devices or your computer:
Subscribe to the Jim Gearhart Show on the NJ 101.5 app to get alerts of new episodes.
Love podcasts? Also check out Forever 39, Annette and Megan's podcast about turning 40 — and loving life along the way. This week, they discuss getting fit in your 40s.
And on Speaking Millennial, the gang gets ready for its upcoming comedy show.
— Townsquare Media staff
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