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Kevin Roper, truck driver, pleads not guilty in Tracy Morgan crash


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- Accident investigators are looking into what role the work commute of the driver charged in the accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan played in the fatal crash on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Wal-Mart driver Kevin Roper, who pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges Wednesday, lived in Georgia, but his job was based in Delaware, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said.

A criminal complaint alleges that the 35-year-old Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, hadn't slept for more than 24 hours before the accident when he allegedly swerved to avoid slowed traffic on the turnpike and plowed into Morgan's limo on Saturday morning.

Wal-Mart has not explained what Roper's driving route was. The company has said it believes he was in compliance with federal safety regulations.

Roper's bail was kept at $50,000. Roper and his attorney, David Glassman, declined to speak with reporters after the brief hearing.

A conviction on a death by auto charge carries a five-to-10-year prison sentence. Each assault by auto charge is punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

The 45-year-old Morgan suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs. His friend and fellow comedian James McNair was killed, and two other passengers were seriously injured. Another passenger was treated and released from the hospital Saturday, and the limo driver and one more passenger weren't injured.

Morgan underwent surgery for his broken leg and remained in critical but stable condition.

State police on Tuesday released audio recordings from three 911 calls made after the accident.

"It's a terrible accident," a woman tells the dispatcher in one of the calls. "The car flipped. It's on its side. It's two vehicles and a Wal-Mart truck."

Citing the criminal investigation, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman wouldn't say Tuesday where Roper's trip had originated or where he was headed at the time of the crash.

FX Networks issued a statement Tuesday saying Morgan's new TV series, a half-hour comedy scheduled to start filming in August for a January premiere on the FXX network, would be waiting for him once he's well.

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mcris110 June 11 2014 at 4:07 PM

This was an accident. Because a celebrity is involved this is becoming a media circus. What about people who are killed and injured in auto crashes everyday, Why aren't they getting this attention?

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31 replies
rongravy June 11 2014 at 4:11 PM

This was a very unfortunate accident. How quickly we want to judge this guy .He is a victim too.Let it play out and see what the facts are.

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9 replies
Devan Dotson June 11 2014 at 4:14 PM

Did they find drugs or alcohol in his system? If not why is he in jail? It was and accident, this country is a joke.

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20 replies
kimcrdr June 11 2014 at 4:14 PM

Sometimes things like this make no sense to me, when can an "accident" be just that a horrible "accident", sorry I don't think this man deserves to be in jail with a $50,000.00 bail, If he intentionally spotted this limo and rammed into it then yes that would be attempted murder but to charge him with death by auto, that is just horrible, I know people died and some serious injured but I think these charges are horrible!

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10 replies
twcolina June 11 2014 at 4:14 PM

Have you ever drivin on the Nj turnpike? What a f' up road that is. People drive like nuts! Wait a while for all the facts to come out.

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4 replies
dsmith3014 June 11 2014 at 4:24 PM

Just because a driver doesn't sleep for 24 hours doesn't mean he is breaking the law. Coming from a trucking back round and in charge of Safety. A driver is required to take a 10 hour break. Doesn't mean he has to sleep, he just need to be out of the truck. Granted most driver sleep, but isn't required. Walmart is always within the law when it comes to making drivers take there break. I would like to know why when any accident happens with a semi they always go back to log book violations. Why can't they just accept human error.

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9 replies
tornekrayville June 11 2014 at 4:11 PM

Trust me everyone will be considered a victim here (including the truck driver) and the big evil corporation Wal Mart will pay all parties. Can't have any personal responsibility - that would be asking too much in this candy assed society.

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4 replies
Susan June 11 2014 at 4:09 PM

Walmart will alwlays decline responsibility.

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13 replies
rweruss June 11 2014 at 4:26 PM

If they are relying on his log book then it will be hard to prove. He may not have made an entry in the past 24hrs. That doesn't mean he did not sleep. If he admitted to it while in the hospital on pain medication that should be thrown out

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3 replies
MISS ELVIRA !!!! June 11 2014 at 4:22 PM

An accident is an accident..................until a celeb is hurt.

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