Fatigued Trucker Injures TV Star: Wal-Mart Driver Falls Asleep
A truck driver from Georgia has been charged with several criminal counts in connection with a horrific accident on the New Jersey Turnpike over the weekend that killed comedian “Jimmy Mack” MacNair and put comedian-actor Tracy Morgan in a New Jersey hospital in critical condition. In all, three other people besides Morgan and McNair were seriously injured in the crash.
According to the New Jersey State Patrol, Kevin Roper, 35, was operating his Walmart-owned tractor-trailer on the Turnpike at about 1 a.m. Saturday, when he “failed to observe slow-moving traffic ahead,” which was the Mercedes limo bus that was carrying Morgan and the others back to New Jersey after having performed a comedy show Friday night at the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware. At the very last minute, the truck driver swerved suddenly to avoid the limo bus, but hit the rear end of the limo bus anyway, causing it to spin and eventually overturn. Four other vehicles were also involved in the crash, but the no injuries were reported from any of those vehicles.
Walmart officials released a statement that identified Roper as a Walmart employee, and described the accident as a “tragedy.” The company said they were “profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved. They also said, “If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility.” According to some preliminary reports, Roper was probably dozing at the time of the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be working with New Jersey state police to investigate the circumstances surrounding both vehicles, since the crash is related to both commercial trucking and limousine safety. The driver of the limo bus, Tyrone Gale, is also part owner of the company that owns it, Atlantic Transportation Services. He was described as “shaken up” after the accident.
A thorough investigation of all of the circumstances of this accident will have to be conducted, because there are many possible factors to consider. Much of the fault for this accident seems to be falling on the driver of the Walmart truck. He was apparently very tired, which will mean investigators will focus on how long he had been driving before the accident. He also apparently swerved at the last minute, which means they will also look at the mechanical condition of the truck. They will also take a look at the condition of the limo bus and the driver, to determine whether the accident could have been avoided.