Feds say trucker in Morgan crash was speeding

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Feds say trucker in Morgan crash was speeding
In this image from video the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on it's side early Saturday morning June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan remained hospitalized as state and federal officials continued their investigation of the six-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that took the life of a Morgan friend and left two others seriously injured, authorities say. (AP Photo/Will Vaultz Photography)
FILE - This April 28, 2012 file photo shows Tracy Morgan at The 2012 Comedy Awards in New York. Billboard announced Wednesday, April 17, 2013 that the 44-year-old will host the awards show on May 19, 2013 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
In this image from video the Wal-Mart truck involved in the crash of the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people is seen early Saturday morning June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike at the accident scene. Morgan remained hospitalized as state and federal officials continued their investigation of the six-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that took the life of a Morgan friend and left two others seriously injured, authorities say. Wal-Mart President Bill Simon said in a statement a Wal-Mart truck was involved and that the company "will take full responsibility" if authorities determine that its truck caused the accident. (AP Photo/Will Vaultz Photography)
Kevin Roper, center, arrives with his attorney David Jay Glassman, left, for a court appearance Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in New Brunswick, N.J. Roper, a Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia, was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the wake of a deadly chain-reaction crash on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday, June 7, 2014, that killed comedian James McNair and left actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and two others critically injured. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Tracy Morgan speaks onstage at Spike TV's 'Don Rickles: One Night Only' on May 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Spike TV)
In this image from video the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on it's side, left, as emergency responders work the accident scene early Saturday morning June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan remained hospitalized as state and federal officials continued their investigation of the six-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that took the life of a Morgan friend and left two others seriously injured, authorities say. (AP Photo/Will Vaultz Photography)
Kevin Roper, second right, tries to walk past cameras blocking him as he arrives for a court appearance Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in New Brunswick, N.J. Roper, a Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia, was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the wake of a deadly chain-reaction crash on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday, June 7, 2014, that killed comedian James McNair and left actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and two others critically injured. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Kevin Roper, walks past cameras blocking him as he arrives for a court appearance Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in New Brunswick, N.J. Roper, a Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia, was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the wake of a deadly chain-reaction crash on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday, June 7, 2014, that killed comedian James McNair and left actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and two others critically injured. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
This photo provided by the New Jersey State Police shows Kevin Roper. Roper, a Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia, was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the wake of a deadly chain-reaction crash on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday, June 7, 2014, that left actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and two others critically injured and another man dead. (AP Photo/New Jersey State Police)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - JUNE 11: Kevin Roper arrives for a court appearance at Middlesex County Courthouse on June 11, 2014 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Roper is the Walmart truck driver accused of causing the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan on Saturday, June 7. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
Traffic moves pass the scene of a serious accident at milepost 71 on the northbound lanes of New Jersey Turnpike on Saturday, June 7, 2014 near Cranbury, N.J. Comedian Tracy Morgan is in critical condition following an early morning accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. The comedian was injured in a crash involving six vehicles that left at least one person dead and several others, including Morgan, with serious injuries. (AP Photo/David Gard)
This Friday, April 21, 2013 image released by South Beach Comedy Festival shows comedian Tracy Morgan performing during the 8th Annual South Beach Comedy Festival in Miami Beach, Fla. The comedy festival runs through April 21. (AP Photo/South Beach Comedy Festival 2013, Mitchell Zachs)
Host Tracy Morgan speaks on stage at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, May 19, 2013 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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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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