Prosecutor says Walmart truck driver who struck Morgan’s limousine bus hadn’t slept for 24 hours before the fatal collision
Tracy Morgan was severely injured in a fatal car accident in New Jersey on Saturday, and developments have been regularly arriving.
63-year-old comedian James McNair, who performed as Jimmy Mack, was killed when a Walmart tractor-trailer crashed into Morgan’s chauffeured limo bus and caused a six-vehicle pileup. Fellow comedians Ardie Fuqua, Harris Stanton and Jeffrey Millea, who were with Morgan at the time of the crash, were also injured.
Morgan’s representative told TheWrap on Sunday that he “remains in critical condition,” but was “more responsive” after surgery on a broken leg.
The truck driver, 35-year-old Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, Ga., surrendered to police on Saturday night and posted $50,000 bail. He has been charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.
Here are five more developments:
1. The Truck Driver Allegedly Hadn’t Slept in 24 Hours
Kevin Roper’s lack of sleep will likely play a key role in how prosecutors argue on behalf of the charges filed against him (pictured left). The Associated Press reported on Monday that the criminal complaint says he had not slept for more than 24 hours.
A court official told the AP that Roper’s first appearance in court is now due on Wednesday.
2. An Eyewitness Recounts “Horrific Sight”
“It was like a movie in slow motion. The Mercedes bus spun out of control and then flipped over and came to rest on the driver’s side,” a woman identified as Vicktoria told People. “My son jumped out and was the first on the scene; my husband and I were right behind him. The woman in the white SUV was fine, and so was the driver of the Walmart truck. But it was obvious that the people in the Mercedes were really hurt.”
“You could see blood everywhere. You could tell it was really bad,” she continued. “They pulled Ardie [Fuqua] out of the SUV and put him on the cement. We were trying to keep him as alert as much as we could. He was going in and out of consciousness, so I was trying to keep him awake, calling his name and telling him to stay strong. It was pretty obvious he was in shock.”
3. Report Claiming Doctors Considered Amputating Morgan’s Leg Is Not True
Despite a report Monday by MediaTakeout, that doctors at the hospital where Morgan is being treated considered amputating the comedian’s severely injured leg, the star’s publicist, Lewis Kay, insists the story is not true. “Rumors about amputating his leg are completely fabricated,” Kay said in a statement given to TheWrap. MediaTakeout quoted an insider at the hospital who said amputation was “an option,” but that the “30 Rock” star instead chose to keep his leg and “deal with partial paralysis.” Morgan suffered a broken leg, a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs, his reps said. He is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks.
4. Walmart Could “Take Full Responsibility”
The company confirmed Roper to be an employee shortly after the accident and released a statement, in which president and CEO Bill Simon said Walmart would take full responsibility if the investigation reveals the driver was at fault.
“This is a tragedy and we are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved. We are working quickly to understand what happened and are cooperating fully with law enforcement to aid their investigation,” Simon said. “The facts are continuing to unfold. If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility.”
5. Walmart Disputes “Move or Get Hit” Twitter Motto
A screenshot (above) from a Twitter account using the name of the Walmart truck driver features an ominous tag line, “Driving trucks for a living, it’s my road, move or get hit.”
A spokeswoman for Walmart, however, has said, “Mr. Roper has not had and does not have any involvement on social media.”
The New York Daily News reported that the account tweeted on Saturday, “My daddy is sorry for what happened please forgive him @RealTracyMorgan. We watch martin all the time with hustleman is our favorite.”
The account is now private, and the profile tagline currently reads, “Trying to win more than lose! Driving trucks for a living #Walmart.”