Tracy Morgan crash: Truck driver charged as actor remains hospitalised
Kevin Roper, 35, faces four counts of assault by auto following the fatal collision in New Jersey on Saturday
Published 08/06/2014 | 11:41
A truck driver has been charged with death by auto in the collision on Saturday that claimed the life of 62-year-old comedian James McNair and left Morgan, 45, in a critical condition.
The former Saturday Night Live cast member and 30 Rock star was travelling in his chauffeured Mercedes limousine along with six other people when it was rammed by a tractor-trailer, causing it to flip over on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury Township at about 1am.
Middlesex County prosecutors said 35-year-old Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, faces four counts of assault by auto stemming from the crash. His bail was set at $50,000. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Mr McNair, of Peekskill, New York, died at the scene, Sergeant 1st Class Greg Williams said.
Morgan, 45, and Jeffrey Millea, 36, of Shelton, Connecticut, were flown from the accident scene to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, where they were in critical condition, hospital spokesman Peter Haigney said.
A fourth passenger, comedian Ardie Fuqua Jr, was also in critical condition, while a fifth passenger, comic Harris Stanton, was treated and released, Haigney said. Two others in the limo were unhurt, including the driver.
The limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on its side early Saturday morning, 7 June, 2014, on the New Jersey Turnpike The limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on its side early Saturday morning, 7 June, 2014, on the New Jersey Turnpike Morgan remains in the intensive care unit at the hospital.
“His family is now with him and he is receiving excellent care,” spokesman Lewis Kay said in a statement.
“We don't anticipate much of a change in his condition today but will provide a further update once more information becomes available.”
Williams said the tractor-trailer driver apparently failed to notice slow traffic ahead and swerved at the last minute in a vain attempt to avoid a crash. But the tractor-trailer smashed into the back of the limo, prompting a chain-reaction crash with a second tractor-trailer, an SUV and two cars.
The US National Transportation Safety Board said it was working with state police to look at any issues in the crash related to commercial trucking and limousine safety.
Morgan's limo was owned by Atlantic Transportation Services, which said it had one employee behind the wheel and a second in the front passenger seat.
“Although the investigation is still pending, we concur with the preliminary reports that the accident was caused by another vehicle traveling behind the Atlantic limo bus,” the Rehoboth Beach, Delaware-based company said.
“We are grateful that our drivers did not sustain life-threatening injuries.”
Walmart President Bill Simon issued a statement that said one of the firm's trucks was involved in the accident. While noting that the crash remains under investigation, Simon said “Walmart will take full responsibility” if authorities determine that the company's truck caused the accident.
“We're praying for the family and friends of the passenger who lost his life in the terrible accident” the statement said.
“Our hearts go out to everyone involved and we hope those who were injured get the care that they need and make a full recovery.”
Morgan joined Saturday Night Live in 1996 and was on the sketch-comedy programme for seven years before leaving to star in The Tracy Morgan Show in 2003.
That show lasted just one season. In 2006, Morgan found a long-running role in NBC's hit show 30 Rock, which was created by Tina Fey.
Morgan's films include Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, The Longest Yard, First Sunday, Rio and Why Stop Now.
Antonia Molloy, Independent.co.uk