Former NJ Transit bus driver gets five years in prison for dragging passenger to his death

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A former NJ Transit employee was sentenced to five years in prison after she admitted to causing the death of a passenger whose arm was caught in the door of her bus, failing to stop the vehicle despite the pleas of the victim and other passengers.

Fayola Howard, 36, of Bloomfield, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death of Kevin Thomas, a 55-year-old Newark resident, who was dragged alongside Howard's bus before the vehicle ran him over, prosecutors said.

On Dec. 31, 2019, Thomas was riding a bus operated by Howard in Newark when he hurried off the vehicle to return a pocketbook another passenger had left onboard.

When Thomas tried to get back on the bus, Howard shut the vehicle's front door on his arm and continued driving, eventually dragging the victim, prosecutors said Tuesday.

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Despite the calls for her to stop and release Thomas' arm, Howard made a right turn, at which point he was caught under one of the bus's wheels and run over, prosecutors said.

He died nearly a week later, on Jan. 6, 2020.

"Mr. Thomas was a kind and generous man who died acting as a good Samaritan trying to help a stranger," said Assistant Prosecutor Adam Wells.

Howard was arrested the next month while attempting to board a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.

She is a native of Trinidad and could face deportation after serving her prison term.

Nicholas Katzban is a breaking news reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

Email: katzban@northjersey.com

Twitter: @nicholaskatzban

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ Transit bus driver gets five years in prison for dragging death