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Feds say trucker in Morgan crash was speeding

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The driver of a tractor-trailer that plowed into a limousine van carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and several friends, killing one person and severely injuring Morgan and two others, was speeding in the final moments before the crash, according to a preliminary report released Thursday.

Wal-Mart driver Kevin Roper was going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone just before the June 7 crash on the northbound New Jersey Turnpike, according to the National Transportation Safety Board's report. The crash killed 62-year-old James McNair of Peekskill, New York.

The NTSB used the truck's electronic engine-control system to calculate how fast Roper was driving.

"A preliminary review of the data showed that the Peterbilt combination vehicle was traveling at 65 mph for the 60 seconds preceding the collision with the Mercedes-Benz limo van," the report concluded.

Traffic was slowed by construction that blocked two of the highway's three lanes. According to the NTSB report, a sign warned of the lane closures about a mile south of where the accident occurred, and another sign a half-mile closer directed motorists to reduce their speed from 55 mph to 45 mph.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. trucks are equipped with devices that limit the vehicles' speed to 65 mph, a spokeswoman said, so Roper was going at the top speed possible.

Drivers are required to follow the posted speed limit under Wal-Mart policy, spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said Thursday.

"Of course we expect our drivers to comply with the laws, whether it's a speed limit, or (something else)," she said. "We don't condone speeding."

She otherwise declined to comment on the report, citing the ongoing investigation.

The truck struck Morgan's limo from behind, sending it into other vehicles and eventually onto its side. Morgan is hospitalized in fair condition with a broken leg and other injuries.

Morgan's assistant, Jeffrey Millea, of Shelton, Connecticut, has also been upgraded to fair condition, according to Morgan's spokesman. Hospital officials said Monday that comedian Ardie Fuqua, of Jersey City, remains in critical condition.

Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Georgia, has pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges. A criminal complaint accuses him of not sleeping for more than 24 hours before the crash, a violation of New Jersey law.

The NTSB report said investigators were still probing Roper's activities in the days leading up to the crash to determine the amount of rest he received.

It concluded that Roper left a Wal-Mart facility in Smyrna, Delaware, at about 11:30 a.m. on June 6 and made stops in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania during the day. Just after midnight on June 7 he left Bristol, Pennsylvania, en route to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, when the crash happened about 30 minutes into his trip.

The timetable appears to show Roper wasn't in violation of federal rules that permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel. He had been on duty about 13½ hours at the time of the accident, according to the report.


Associated Press writer Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

Trucker In Morgan Crash Was Speeding

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ralphywiggums June 19 2014 at 12:55 PM

Speed was not a factor in regards to the accident. The fact that 90% of people go above the limit would mean that there would be unlimited accidents. It was an unfortunate event caused by a man trying to make enough money to support himself. Sad and stupid, but accidental.

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50 replies
Obnoxo TheClown June 19 2014 at 1:09 PM

Good thing the driver wasn't White or they'd be playing up the Redneck Truck Driver angle. Al Sharpton would be screaming bloody murder and it would be on the news ad nauseum.

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17 replies
joeclown June 19 2014 at 1:04 PM

Would this story still be around had the people involved just been every day you and me?

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21 replies
Susan June 19 2014 at 12:58 PM

They are going to sensationalize this case because of Tracy Morgan but crashes like this happen every day all across America. I am not saying what he did was right but everyone speeds on the Jersey Turnpike because it hardly ever moves at the speed limit during the day.

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10 replies
Tom P June 19 2014 at 1:20 PM

If Roper had been a white man, Rev. Al Sharpton & Rev. Jesse Jackson would be out protesting already

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11 replies
alterrdego June 19 2014 at 1:34 PM

First it was lack of sleep...now it's speeding......Stop trying to railroad this poor guy for your pound of flesh I'm sure he feels guilty enough as is.

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7 replies
pobo52 June 19 2014 at 12:54 PM

a big rig driver exceeding the speed limit? who da thunk it?

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5 replies
malinda.smith1 June 19 2014 at 12:58 PM

Front Page of article - "Law investigators say he broke." Great writing and great editing. NOWHERE in the article does it mention "him be broke." Also, "he was going 65 which is the top speed possible." No, my dear, 65 is not the TOP speed possible. He just happened to be going 65 which was the top speed ALLOWABLE by law. PLEASE SEND YOUR WRITERS TO SCHOOL FOR A DEGREE IN WRITING.

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49 replies
tdic222 June 19 2014 at 12:58 PM

Everybody goes 65 in that area

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8 replies
madcap.1 June 19 2014 at 1:03 PM

his attorney should try and get the his case moved to texas.
a kid killed four people while driving drunk and the judge gave him 10 years probation.
however the kids parents were white and rich but that shouldn't have a bearing on the sentence this man will receive.
will it ?

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5 replies
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