The NTSB rules that Roper is at fault for the fatal accident that killed comic James McNair and seriously injured Morgan. Their report says Roper had driven 800 miles before even reaching Walmart’s distribution center and at the time of the crash and had been up for 28 hours straight. Roper also failed to wear a seat belt and was traveling 20 miles per hour above the 45-mph speed limit when he hit the tour van carrying Morgan and six others. Morgan and the other passenger’s injuries were made worse because all but one of the van’s occupants was wearing a seat belt. The van had also been modified. NTSB Chairman Hart:
The passengers … had no available exits until emergency responders removed part of a plywood panel that had been installed between the passenger compartment and the cab. [The only other way of exiting, a sliding door] had become inoperable in the crash.
NTSB investigators recommended that Wal-Mart improve fatigue management programs for drivers and install better vehicle warning systems for drivers and delivery operators.
Appearing before a state Superior Court judge, Roper pleads not guilty to one charge of death and four charges of assault by auto. Bail for Roper remains at $50,000, and if prosecuted he may receive up to 16 years in prison. Roper is accused of operating his truck after going 24 hours without sleep.
Claiming he is being targeted as a scapegoat because celebrities were involved, driver Kevin Roper sends out tweets of protest over the charges brought against him. Roper sent at least four tweets from his Twitter account, expressing his sorrow over the deaths and injuries, but claiming total lack of blame for the accident. Roper states he was not drunk, high, or sleep deprived at the time of the crash.
Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, is charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the early Saturday crash. Morgan and two other passengers remain in critical condition at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. Morgan’s publicist:
His family is now with him, and he is receiving excellent care. We don’t anticipate much of a change in his condition today.
Morgan and Jeffrey Millea are airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and is in critical condition following a 5-car pile-up. Their chauffeured limousine bus was struck from behind by a Walmart truck. New Jersey State police say they believe the Walmart truck driver was dozing and failed to see traffic slowing in front of him before it was too late – rear-ending the Mercedes limo-bus and prompting a chain-reaction crash with a second tractor-trailer, an SUV and two cars. The limo rotated clockwise and flipped over. Police say:
Driver failed to observe slow-moving traffic ahead. He observed at the last minute – just prior to impact – the limo bus carrying Morgan and his party.
McNair, one of Morgan’s writers, dies in the crash. Two other comedians traveling in the bus, Harris Stanton and Ardie Fuqua, were also injured. Morgan’s driver, Tyrone Gale says:
I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help. I climbed up on the body of the limo bus…but I couldn’t reach them.