Truck Driver in Tracy Morgan Accident Was Sleep Deprived
The driver accused of rear ending a limousine bus on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed one and sent 5 others to the hospital including Tracy Morgan had not slept for over 24 hours prior to the crash.
7 ABC says court documents unsealed on Monday reveal that Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, Georgia was driving "without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours."
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office says Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro will formally be charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto during a court appearance scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement issued late Monday afternoon by Morgan's publicist, Lewis Kay, the comedian "remains in critical but stable condition. His fiancée Megan is by his side." Kay denies reports that the former "30 Rock" star's leg has been amputated and Morgan has an "arduous" revcovery ahead of him.
During an appearance in Camden on Monday Gov. Chris Christie (R) offered his condolances to the family of James McNair who died in the crash, and prayers for everyone else involved with the accident. He also addressed Roper's sleep deprivation calling it a driver's responsibility to drive sober, drug free and awake.
State Senate Sweeney (D) used the accident to remind drivers about New Jersey's "Maggie's Law" which makes it illegal for a driver to be behind the wheel for over 24-hours without sleep. "We also hope that out of this tragedy will come further examination and discussion on how we prevent people from driving sleep deprived," said Sweeney in a statement.
Spokesman Jim O’Neill said in an email that Roper turned himself in on Saturday and was briefly held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center in North Brunswick before posting $50,000 bail.
State Police say Roper apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead early Saturday in Cranbury Township and swerved at the last minute to avoid a crash. Instead, his tractor trailer smashed into the back of Morgan's chauffeured Mercedes limo bus, killing comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, authorities said.
The National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway tells the Star-Ledger a team of investigators will be working near he accident scene along the northbound Turnpike in Cranbury on Monday. "If we can take that information and can use it to prevent accidents like this from happening, that will help us achieve our goal" of using this accident as a case study" said Holloway.
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."
The chaplain at RWJUH, the Rev. Tom Ganley, tells the Star-Ledger he said prayers during a service at the hospital for Morgan and the others involved in the accident: Morgan's assistant, Jeffrey Millea, 36, of Shelton, Connecticut, and comedian Ardie Fuqua Jr., 43, of Jersey City. "We're all praying for him," Ganley told the newspaper. Comedian Harris Stanton left the hospital on Sunday.
Morgan's close friend James "Jimmy Mack" McNair who died in the crash will be remembered in a service at the Paramount Theater in Peekskill, New York on Thursday, according to the Journal News in New York's Lower Hudson Valley.
- Tracy Morgan, Friends Still Critical; Suspect Says He Hadn't Slept for 24 Hours / 7 ABC
- Tracy Morgan ‘screamed for help’ after crash / NY Post
- Comedian Tracy Morgan critical but responsive after weekend crash / CNN
- Man Accused in Tracy Morgan Crash Heads to Court / ABC News
- Tracy Morgan update: Feds in NJ to investigate crash that critically injured comedian, killed writer / Star-Ledger
- Peekskill comedian James McNair's funeral service at the Paramount Thursday / The Journal News
- Tracy Morgan Remains In Critical But Stable Condition; Rumors About Leg Amputation ‘Completely Fabricated’ / CBS Philly
Dino Flammia and the Associated Press contributed to this report