MORRISTOWN, N.J. - The parents of fifth-grader Miranda Vargas stood next to their daughter's picture in a Morris County courtroom Wednesday facing the man who, according to prosecutors, recklessly made an illegal U-turn and killed their little girl in 2018.
"She was my everything," mom Lorena Vargas said. "My sweet Miranda was 10 years old and had a heart of gold."
"I trusted you and the people who put you behind the steering wheel to protect our children and instead you thought of yourself," father Joevanny Vargas said. "What the hell were you thinking?"
Hudy Muldrow Sr., 79, was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison with a minimum of five years and nine months behind bars before being eligible for parole.
The bus driver made that illegal turn on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive in May 2018 while driving students on a field trip from East Brook Middle School in Paramus. A dump truck then slammed into the bus, killing Vargas and social studies teacher Jennifer Williamson.
In December, Muldrow pleaded guilty to reckless vehicular homicide, assault by auto, and child endangerment.
But Muldrow also had tearful pleas from his own family, including his son who begged the judge for leniency because of his father's 10 seconds of misjudgment. Muldrow then gave his own apology.
"I just want to say I'm sorry. I have a lot of remorse," Muldrow said in court. "I love those kids that I was driving."
But after hours of hearing from both sides, Judge Steven Taylor felt the "extreme act of recklessness that caused significant, significant harm to so many individuals" by Muldrow deserved the sentence given.
"That day I died as well," Lorena Vargas said. "No parent should have to bury their child."
Muldrow's license has been suspended at least 14 times since 1975, including just six months before this crash, according to state driving records.
Several students, parents, and teachers are suing the Paramus School District for hiring Muldrow and allegedly failing to provide oversight of the school's transportation.