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Driver in deadly bus accident in West New York also works for MTA

August 2, 2013 5:13:33 PM PDT
The MTA says Idowu Daramola Daramola is also a New York City probationary bus driver, but he is now in the process of being terminated following the accident that killed a little girl in a stroller.

He joined the Transit Authority in February, working out of the MTA bus depot in East Harlem, at East 100th Street and Lexington Avenue, the MTA said.

The MTA hired Idowu Daramola in February as a probationary bus operator in East Harlem because a background check showed he had a clean New York State driving record. New York was never notified that, in fact, the 48-year-old, who also drove for Sphinx bus company in New Jersey, had racked up several traffic violations in that state. there were open warrants on him for failing to show up in court.

Thursday, he was in court on far more serious charges, including death by auto, Authorities say Daramola was talking on his cel lphone Tuesday when he lost control of his jitney in West New York, causing a lamppost to come crashing down on the stroller carrying 8 month old Angelie Paredes of North Bergen.

Recordings of 911 calls from Tuesday's crash revealed witnesses begging for an ambulance during the anguishing minutes after 48-year-old Daramola struck the pole while allegedly using his cellphone and speeding.

Eight-month-old Angelie Paredes was killed and seven others injured when Daramola veered off a West New York street, hitting the pole that fell on the stroller then a tree, another pole and a parked car that then struck three other vehicles.

Daramola made an initial court appearance Thursday to face charges of death by auto, reckless driving and using a cellphone while operating a vehicle but did not enter a plea. He was being held on $250,000 bail.

Daramola said he has been unable to obtain a lawyer because the jail phone could not 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.

Hudson County Sheriff Frank X. 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.

Authorities in northern New Jersey began a crackdown on commuter bus companies Thursday.

Schillari said he 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. Thursday afternoon, a sheriff's office spokesman said officers pulled over a jitney bus after it ran a red light and found the driver had a suspended license.

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.

In 911 calls, horrified callers begged for an ambulance after the pole fell on the stroller. One woman is heard saying: "The ambulance just got there. It took so long."

One man said at least five or six minutes elapsed and there was no doctor or ambulance. Another said about 10 minutes had elapsed.

A spokesman for the Hudson County Sheriff's Office said an ambulance responded within nine minutes.

Funeral services for Angelie will be held on Monday. She will be buried at Fairview Mausoleum.

The family has set a website to help pay for the funeral expenses. For more information, please visit https://www.wepay.com/donations/upsilon-baby-angela-paredes-fund.


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