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NJ Transit Driver Could Be Deported For Death Of Passenger Returning Pocketbook: Authorities

Fayola Howard
Fayola Howard Photo Credit: Essex County Prosecutor's Office

An NJ Transit bus driver from Bloomfield was sentenced to New Jersey State Prison for dragging a passenger returning a woman's pocketbook in Newark, authorities announced.

Superior Court Judge Ronald D. Wigler sentenced 36-year-old Fayola Howard to five years in State Prison for the death of 55-year-old Kevin Thomas, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.

Howard was arrested while trying to board a plane at Newark Airport on Feb. 18, 2020. A native of Trinidad, she is expected to face deportation proceedings following completion of her sentence. Under the No Early Release Act, Howard must serve 85 percent of her sentence before she eligible for parole. 

Howard entered a guilty plea admitting she caused the death of Thomas on Dec. 31, 2019. Thomas had stepped off the bus to return a pocketbook to a woman who had left her pocketbook on the bus near the intersection of Sanford Ave. and Mt. Vernon Place in Newark.

When Thomas attempted to return to the front door of the bus, Howard closed the door on his arm and, rather than releasing him, she pulled away from the stop. Howard dragged Thomas even as he and other passengers yelled for her to stop the bus, authorities said. 

The bus then turned right, at which point Thomas came free from the bus, fell, and the bus ran him over. Thomas died from his injuries on Jan. 6, 2020. 

Howard was convicted of reckless vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of the accident resulting in death and tampering with records. 

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