Fatal Route 80 school bus crash — Why haven’t officials released video?
Did a 77-year-old bus driver attempted to take an emergency exit on Route 80 by veering across three lanes?
That's what authorities believe, charging Hudy Muldrow Sr. vehicular homicide after a 10-year-old girl and 51-year-old teacher died in a May 17 crash with a dump truck in Mount Olive.
Police and Department of Transportation officials say there's video proving it. But, so far, they haven't released it.
The Morris County Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday denied New Jersey 101.5's request under the Open Public Records Act for a copy of the video, citing an ambiguous criminal investigatory records exemption under the law.
The DOT also has not complied with a separate New Jersey 101.5 OPRA request, asking the news organization on Wednesday to grant the agency two weeks before deciding whether to release the video. State law requires public agencies respond to an OPRA request within seven business days.
In a letter to New Jersey 101.5, the DOT said the the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office "met with the interested families regarding the investigation on Friday, May 25, 2018.
"It is the NJDOT’s understanding that several family members voiced concerns regarding release of the video. Out of respect for the families’ reasonable expectation of privacy, the NJDOT cannot release the video until the families have the opportunity to formally object to the release of the video, should they so desire."
State law allows individuals to sue agencies that deny access to public records. Agencies that lose such lawsuits are required to pay attorney fees.
While the video has not been released to the public, it has been circulating among DOT employees, some of whom described the video to journalists or allowed journalists to view it.
The traffic cam video is said to show the school bus crossing three lanes of interstate highway after re-entering the highway from Route 206.
A DOT official who viewed the video told New Jersey 101.5 the bus appears to make a bee line toward an emergency road that cuts through the grassy median before being hit by the truck.
Muldrow was released Wednesday morning from the Morris County Jail by a Superior Court judge after his detention hearing.
The Woodland Park resident faces further criminal charges for the dozens of other injured students and adults.