By DAVID PORTER
WEST NEW YORK, N.J. - A bus driver who hit a light pole that toppled onto a stroller, killing an infant and injuring seven other people in a chain-reaction crash, faced criminal charges including using a cellphone while operating a vehicle, authorities said today.
Idowu Daramola, 48, was scheduled to make an initial court appearance but the hearing was moved back to Thursday morning. The Thornwood, N.Y. man is also charged with death by auto and reckless driving in Tuesday afternoon's crash, according to the Hudson County Sheriff's Office.
Daramola also had two outstanding warrants for picking up or discharging passengers in an unauthorized area, according to sheriff's office spokesman Mike Makarski.
The accident happened in West New York on a road that overlooks the Hudson River and offers a panoramic view of Manhattan. Authorities said the bus struck a lamppost, which fell onto a stroller. The bus then hit a tree, another lamppost and caromed into a parked car, which struck three other parked vehicles. Eight-month-old Angela Paredes was killed, and seven other people were sent to hospitals. Paredes' family was scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
"I heard a loud crash and people screaming," said Iris Pizarro, who lives in an apartment building across the street. "That's when I ran to the window and saw the mother over the baby screaming, "My daughter! My baby!"
This morning, a makeshift memorial of lit candles, teddy bears and flowers had been set up as utility crews worked to reinstall the light pole. The bus stop sits between a park and playground atop a swath of trees and shrubs running down a steep slope.
The vehicle was operated by Sphinx Transportation, which provides shuttle service between New Jersey and New York City. A woman waiting at the bus stop Wednesday said she frequently takes the shuttle bus if it arrives while she is waiting for a New Jersey Transit commuter bus. But she said she wasn't surprised that one of the buses was involved in an accident.
"I'm not shocked at all that it was one of these drivers," Yorvira Kavanaugh said. "They're always on their phones, always arguing with each other. Sometimes they pull up next to each other and argue about passengers.
The company said Tuesday it did not know the cause of the accident.
"This was horrible," she said. "I have two babies and I'm always walking around here with them."
Attorney information for Daramola wasn't immediately available.