Truck driver in Tracy Morgan crash surrenders to police

Written by Reuters | New York | Updated: Jun 9 2014, 03:19am hrs
A truck driver who caused a New Jersey highway collision that critically injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and left another comic dead has turned himself in to face a charge of death by auto, state police said Sunday.

Tracy Morgan, best known for his roles on "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night Live", and two other people traveling with the 45-year-old comic remained in critical condition Sunday at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Center, according to hospital spokeswoman Zenaida Mendez.

A fourth passenger on the bus, 62-year-old comedian James McNair, known by his stage name Jimmy Mack, of Peekskill, New York, died at the scene, according to New Jersey State Police.

The comics were returning from a performance in Delaware around 1 am local time Saturday when a transport truck slammed into the back of their chauffeured Mercedes limo bus near Cranbury Township, New Jersey, flipping it over.

The impact caused a chain reaction crash involving another truck, a sport utility vehicle and two other cars, said New Jersey State Police spokesman Gregory Williams.

"The Peterbilt tractor-trailer was traveling northbound on the turnpike, in the center lane, when the driver failed to recognize traffic was slowing," Williams said.

"When he did notice the Mercedes bus in front of him, he attempted to avoid collision by swerving to the left but it was too late."

Passengers in the other vehicles were not hurt, Williams said.

The driver of the truck, Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Georgia, turned himself in to face a charge of death by auto, Williams said.

Roper was taken to Middlesex County jail late Saturday night where he was being held on $50,000 bail, police said. He could also face four counts of assault by auto.


State police said the two other hospitalized passengers were comedians Ardie Fuqua and Harris Stanton.

Stanton was also airlifted from the crash scene to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Center, Williams said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc issued a statement late Saturday saying its truck was involved in the collision.

"We are working quickly to understand what happened and are cooperating fully with law enforcement to aid their investigation," Chief Executive Bill Simon said.

Morgan is one of the best-known black comedians in the United States, using humor to spotlight racial prejudices.

The New York City native spent seven years on Saturday Night Live before leaving the cast in 2003. He went on to star in the sitcom "30 Rock" for seven seasons alongside Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.

Word of the crash prompted an outpouring of sentiment on social media, with other comics and actors tweeting messages of support.

"Get better fast ... You have most positive thoughts," tweeted actor and director Henry Winkler.

"Saying a prayer for RealTracyMorgan," wrote actor and director Jon Favreau.

The Mercedes limo bus owner, Atlantic Transportation Services, said the vehicle had two drivers, both were shaken by the crash but unhurt.

Police were still investigating the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board was also sending investigators.