A northern New Jersey sheriff plans to crack down on commuter buses, he said Thursday, days after a driver hit a light pole that toppled onto a stroller, killing an 8-month-old.
Hudson County Sheriff Frank X. Schillari ordered a “massive crackdown” on the buses, telling deputies to conduct random stops to ensure the operators have proper insurance and the drivers’ licenses are valid.
Schillari said officers will also sit on major thoroughfares and watch to ensure bus drivers obey traffic laws and are not using cellphones. The buses are operated by private companies and ferry commuters from the heavily congested suburbs of northern New Jersey into New York City.
There have been cases where insurance papers and licenses have been fraudulent, Schillari said. He said the bus companies need to conduct better checks of their drivers.
The announcement came after the first court appearance for Idowu Daramola. Authorities say he was using a cellphone when his bus veered off a city street in West New York on Tuesday and struck a pole that fell onto a stroller. Eight-month-old Angelie Parades was killed.
Daramola was being held on $250,000 bail. He is charged with death by auto, reckless driving and using a cellphone while operating a vehicle. Schillari said speed is also a factor in the case.
Daramola did not enter a plea. He said he has been unable to obtain a lawyer because the jail phone was unable to make outgoing calls.
Daramola has been charged with a number of traffic infractions over the past few years, including speeding, improperly letting off passengers, failure to stop at a stop sign and running a red light.
Schillari said an arrest warrant was issued in February 2012 after Daramola failed to appear in court on one of the charges. Two additional warrants were issued this year after Daramola again failed to appear in court.
Schillari said Daramola, who lives in Queens, “slipped through the system,” and it may have happened because Daramola lives and has a valid driver’s license in New York.
“This tragedy could have been averted,” Schillari said. “I think it’s ludicrous that he was still driving. But we’re going to try to prevent such accidents in Hudson County from here on in.”
Daramola was employed by Sphinx Transportation, which Schillari said was recently sold to Boulevard Transportation of Ridgefield, N.J. No one at the company could be immediately reached for comment.
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