Paramus district officials immediately reached out to parents after learning that a judge ordered New Jersey State Police to release a traffic camera video of a May bus crash that killed a borough middle school student and one of her teachers.
Daily Voice won't be publishing the video out of concern for its readers.
Gannett Co., the parent company of NorthJersey.com., sued for access to the video -- recorded by a state Department of Transportation traffic camera -- after State Police refused.
In a message to readers on Friday, Gannett wrote:
"Our reasons were twofold: As journalists, we must protect the public’s right to know and defend the First Amendment. And as members of the community we serve, we wanted to answer lingering questions about how a field trip by a Paramus middle school turned deadly. These are not easy decisions to make and we don’t take them lightly. However, the public’s right to know how an accident occurred - one involving public employees and public school children on a public road - outweighed other concerns regarding the publication of this video."
Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson, sitting in Trenton, ruled in the company's favor.
After learning of Jacobson's decision, Paramus Schools Supt. Michele Robinson warned the community on Thursday that publication of the video was imminent.
Her aim, she said, was to give parents "the option of speaking with your children" about the video.
"As always, you may want to monitor your child's use of technology, particularly the use of social media," the superintendent added in Thursday's letter. "Along with our school counselors and child study teams, there continues to be additional mental health and emotional support professionals available to our children and families.
"We encourage you to reach out to your child's school at any time if you feel you or your child need assistance."
Hudy Muldrow Sr. of Woodland Park was transporting 44 passengers from East Brook Middle School when he tried to make an illegal U-turn through a police-only cutout on eastbound Route 80 in Mount Olive on May 17.
Muldrow, 77, cut in front of a dump truck that struck the bus so hard that it knocked it off its chassis.
Killed were 10-year-old fifth-grader Miranda Vargas and teacher Jennifer Williamson.
Prosecutors in Morris County said they expected their case against Muldrow on two counts of death by auto will go to a grand jury within weeks.
Muldrow’s bus was the second of three headed to Waterloo Village for a class trip. The drivers missed their turn and somehow became separated, authorities said.
For some reason, they said, Muldrow made his way back to westbound Route 80, headed in the wrong direction.
He then pulled a sharp left from the slow lane of the three-lane highway toward the cutout on the median near the Waterloo Bridge (Exit 25), leaving the bus “positioned in an almost-perpendicular direction in relation to the lanes of travel on Route 80 westbound," the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office said in a release.
The driver of the dump truck, which was in the center lane, couldn’t stop in time, authorities said.
The teacher who was killed, 51-year-old Jennifer M. Williamson, was a longtime Paramus native who taught in the district for nearly 20 years.
"She was an angel," more than one parent said.
Miranda Vargas was described as having a smile that touched countless hearts, a gentle soul and an intense love for her family.
Several other victims were critically and seriously injured.
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