The Walmart driver whose truck collided with a van carrying the comedian Tracy Morgan and other performers had not slept for more than 24 hours before the crash, New Jersey prosecutors said on Monday.
Prosecutors in Middlesex County charged the truck driver, Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Ga., on Saturday with one count of death by auto and several counts of assault by auto in connection with the pileup early that day on the northbound New Jersey Turnpike in Cranbury Township, about 45 miles from New York City. One comedian, James McNair, known as Jimmy Mack, was killed, and Mr. Morgan was critically injured.
In a criminal complaint released on Monday, prosecutors said that at the time of the crash, Mr. Roper had been operating the tractor-trailer “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours resulting in a motor vehicle accident.” In a statement issued on Monday, a Walmart spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan, emphasized that the company believed Mr. Roper “was operating within the federal hours of service regulations,” which limit work shifts to 14 hours, with only 11 of those behind the wheel. She said the company was cooperating with the investigation.
Under New Jersey law, a driver can be convicted of vehicular homicide if it is shown that he had been without sleep for at least 24 hours when the accident occurred.
A preliminary police investigation found that Mr. Roper had failed to perceive slow-moving traffic ahead of him, and, at the last minute, swerved in an attempt to avoid a collision. The complaint did not explain how the New Jersey State Police determined that Mr. Roper had been sleep deprived.
The crash occurred as Mr. Morgan, 45, a former cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” was traveling to New York City from a comedy show in Delaware. Around 1 a.m., a Walmart tractor-trailer collided with the back of the van, a 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, setting off a chain reaction that involved four other vehicles.
Mr. Morgan sustained injuries including a broken leg, a broken nose and several broken ribs. After the crash, he and his assistant, Jeff Millea, 36, were airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. Another comedian, Ardie Fuqua, 43, was also injured.
By Monday, Mr. Morgan was responsive but remained in critical but stable condition. “This recovery will be arduous,” his publicist, Lewis Kay, said in a statement.
Written by: J. DAVID GOODMAN
Continue to Source article from nytimes.com: Driver Charged in Crash Involving Tracy Morgan Had Not Slept in 24 Hours, Prosecutors Say
Insight by Atty. Jeff Powers:
Our interstates are becoming more and more dangerous due to tired and distracted truck drivers and lax regulation by their employers. In 2012 alone, there were 333,000 large truck crashes which killed 3,921 people and injured over 104,000 in the United States. If this many people were killed or injured due to commercial airline accidents, there would be serious consequences for the airlines. Be careful on our roadways – big truck drivers are overworked, tired, and highly distracted.