Kevin Roper has been charged for the accident that critically injured Tracy Morgan amid U.S. Senate Appropriation Committee's controversial admendment.
Georgia resident Kevin Roper has been charged with death by auto and assault by auto.
Steven Zeitchik and James Queally of the Los Angeles Times report the Wal-Mart truck driver killed James McNair and critically injured three others, including Tracy Morgan, on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday morning when he collided with the actor's limousine.
According to L.A. Times article “Wal-Mart driver charged in crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan,” he’s expected to turn himself in to authorities and will be held in custody instead of paying the $50,000 bond.
Morgan and the other two critical condition cases are currently hospitalized at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Brunswick, N.J.
McNair, known for his stage name Jimmy Mack, just performed with Morgan at a casino in Dover, Del., before the accident. Authorities have confirmed the truck slammed into the SUV from behind and began a chain reaction with five additional vehicles.
Thankfully, a fourth victim was released earlier Saturday. Morgan’s condition remains unknown.
Wal-Mart president and CEO Bill Simon said in a statement that “if it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Wal-Mart will take full responsibility” and the company is “cooperating fully with law enforcement” to find those answers.
As the investigation continues, information is being to trickle into the media. Business Week's Mile Weiss quotes Gregory Williams, a sergeant first class with the New Jersey State Police, as saying the truck driver "failed to observe" the slow-traffic ahead and could not prevent the collision with the limousine, which then spun and flipped over.
"Wal-Mart Says Sorry After Tracy Morgan Hurt in Accident" lists Roper as a resident of Jonesboro, Ga., and is 35-years-old.
Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, announced the agency will help investigate the wreck with state police for all safety issues “related to commercial trucking and limousine safety." Noting that "as in all investigations, we will look at the work/rest schedule of the drivers."
What will play into the factor of Morgan's accident will be the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s latest amendment, which Weiss points out "would suspend the main federal regulation requiring truckers to take an extended break after reaching weekly time limits."
In the past 15 years, the transportation community and federal agencies have advocated and enacted ways to reduce highway fatalities by long-haul drivers.
The amendment's attachment to a larger transportation bill must pass the full Senate and then be reconciled with the U.S. House of Representatives appropriation legislation before being fully enacted. However, Williams and Holloway admit to knowing the condition of the driver at the time of the accident.
Prosecutor spokesman James O'Neill replied in an email that charging so soon is "not routine" in a traffic accident of this sort. Earlier this week, an 18-wheeler struck and killed a passenger in Georgia and the driver was not charged until the next day.
With Morgan's 22-year television career spanning "Martin" in 1992 until the end of "30 Rock" in 2013, it is easy to wonder the amendment's viability after being thrust under Hollywood lights.