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Trucker in fatal Morgan crash had not slept for 24 hours



BY DAVID PORTER

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- The Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia accused of triggering a crash in New Jersey that critically injured Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian had not slept for more than 24 hours, a criminal complaint said.

A court official on Monday said 35-year-old Kevin Roper is scheduled to face an initial court appearance on Wednesday. He remains free after posting $50,000 bond.

Roper has been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.

Authorities said the Jonesboro, Georgia, resident apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead early Saturday in Cranbury Township and swerved at the last minute to avoid a crash. Instead, his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan's chauffeured Mercedes limo bus, killing comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, authorities said.

The 45-year-old actor and comedian, a former "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" cast member, remained in critical condition early Monday. Morgan's spokesman, Lewis Kay, said he was "more responsive" Sunday after having surgery for a broken leg.

Kay said Morgan also suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs and is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks. He said Morgan's family is "tremendously overwhelmed and appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from his fans."

Tyrone Gale, who was driving the limo bus, told ABC News that he was disoriented after the vehicle flipped over and could hear Morgan yelling for help.

"I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help," Gale said. "I climbed up on the body of the limo bus ... but I couldn't reach them."

Wal-Mart President Bill Simon said in a statement that the company "will take full responsibility" if authorities determine its truck caused the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board is working with state police to look at any issues in the crash related to commercial trucking and limousine safety.

Morgan, a New York City native, was returning from a standup performance at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware when the crash occurred. In all, six vehicles were involved in the pileup, but no one from the other cars was injured.

At a press event Saturday in Los Angeles to promote the upcoming comedy film "Think Like A Man Too," cast members, many of whom have worked with and are friends with Morgan, wished him well.

Kevin Hart said he owes much of his success to Morgan, crediting him for paving the way for comics like himself to become successful.

"We just want him to get better and to get back to everyone that loves him and get back to doing what he does best, making people laugh," Hart said.

Fuqua's mother, Doris, said she visited him in the hospital Saturday. The writer-comedian had toured with Morgan for nearly a year, she said, and had opened for him Friday night.

"We're hoping for the best," Doris Fuqua said Sunday, adding that she didn't know how long he may be hospitalized. "It's too early to tell."

McNair, 62, of Peekskill, New York, was a close friend and mentor to Morgan, Morgan's ex-wife, Sabina Morgan, told the New York Daily News. "He was one of the first comedians that took Tracy under his wing," she said.

Royale Watkins, a Los Angeles-based comedian who said he had performed in New York clubs with Morgan and McNair, described McNair as having a big personality.

"There may be guys like Tracy who get the fame and notoriety, but you have people like Jimmy Mack who have kind of energized and fueled cats like Tracy and kept them going on the road," Watkins said.

--

Tracy Morgan 'Screamed for Help' After Crash

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quincy_maxwell June 09 2014 at 12:44 PM

I bet anything that I can prove how gullible most people are today. By simply planting a seed and watching it grow.
This truck driver was being pressured, just like all the Walmart trucker are, to get their un-American products delivered as quickly as possible and because they are so very wealthy and can get away with anything, they keep breaking the rules at every corner.

Flag Reply +62 rate up
46 replies
savedandblessed1114 June 09 2014 at 12:41 PM

How sad. I feel sorry for the tractor trailer driver who did not have the proper rest. I am praying for everyone involved.

Flag Reply +60 rate up
18 replies
Sup Dog? June 09 2014 at 12:47 PM

Obviously we feel sorry for all people involved including the truck driver

but bottom line this was an accident...the driver made a mistake and will pay for it

the rest of his life...but he wasn't drunk or on drugs..an accident

Flag Reply +48 rate up
30 replies
sonhaven June 09 2014 at 12:38 PM

maybe big rigs need to have a mandatory sleep cycle like pilots.

Flag +36 rate up
50 replies
chuckpitboss June 09 2014 at 12:47 PM

This driver, according to the story, had not slept for over 24 hours. And our wonderful congress thought it should reduce or eliminate driver rest requirements. So how, what special interest bought the congress off this time?

Flag Reply +30 rate up
14 replies
srknife June 09 2014 at 12:42 PM

Something needs to be done about semi drivers. I see it constantly when I travel. They are ALL rude, reckless and always dangerous!

Flag +27 rate up
51 replies
steves1709 June 09 2014 at 12:54 PM

So, the media are still talking about this story for several days after the accident. This implies that Mr. Morgan is much more important than all the other accident victims of the past week.... how sad!

Flag Reply +25 rate up
21 replies
John June 09 2014 at 1:23 PM

Nothing new on a trucker and no sleep. Happens all the time. 20+ years ago when I traveled by car and CB radios were new, truckers talked about going for 20+ hours all the time. If they weren't moving, they weren't being paid. A sad truth about the trucking industry rules and practices. A loop hole created by the unions and the trucking industry to just keep moving.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
15 replies
hqh206 June 09 2014 at 12:39 PM

So Much for the new cdl laws, I think there like guns laws if your going to break the law it does not matter what the laws are. People will still and are breaking them. To bad

Flag Reply +12 rate up
7 replies
ted June 09 2014 at 12:39 PM

Your headlines are buried deeply on non-existent in the body of the story.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
3 replies
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