Wal-Mart truck driver, Kevin Roper, accused of hitting comedian Tracy Morgan’s limo bus, and causing a six-vehicle crash, allegedly fell asleep at the wheel. ABC News reports that the Wal-Mart driver had not slept in over 24 hours.
Kevin has an initial court appearance scheduled for Wednesday. Kevin, 35, is from Jonesboro, Ga., failed to notice that the traffic had slowed. He realized too late, slamming into the back of the limo bus, killing 62-year-old James McNair, also known as Jimmy Mack. one of the passengers inside the bus.
ABC News reports that a criminal complaint from the Cranbury Township Municipal Court alleges that Kevin "commit[ted] vehicular homicide by operating a vehicle recklessly and caus[ing] the death of James McNair, specifically by operating a 2011 Peterbilt Truck ... on the New Jersey turnpike without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours resulting in a motor vehicle accident in violation of NJS 2C 11-51, a crime of the second degree."
Kevin is charged with one count death by auto and four counts assault by auto. He turned himself in to police on Saturday. Kevin was released later the same day on $50,000 bond. Wal-Mart placed Kevin on administrative leave.
The New York Daily News said that Kevin Roper’s tractor-trailer had a special system that would slow trucks speed down and notify the driver when traffic has stopped. It was unclear if Kevin's system was working properly at the time of the accident.
Former trucker, Lew Grill, told the New York Daily News, “You’ve got to be nuts to drive a truck after not sleeping for 24 hours. You're going to be impaired.”
A Wal-Mart spokesperson said that all their trucks are equipped with on-board computers and blind spot sensors. With the on-board computers, the company can monitor the performance of their drivers. It is unclear whether Kevin’s was working at the time of the accident or if he failed to hear it in time.
Wal-Mart issued a statement on Monday saying, “With regards to news reports that suggest Mr. Roper was working for 24 hours, it is our belief that Mr. Roper was operating within the federal hours of service regulations. The details are the subject of the ongoing investigation and we are cooperating fully with the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The investigation is ongoing and unfortunately, we can’t comment further on the specifics. Federal law requires drivers to work no more than 14 hours for any shift and 11 hours of driving.”
Three occupants of the limo bus, Tracy Morgan, Jeffrey Millea, and Ardie Fuqua Jr. are listed in critical condition. Harris Stanton was treated and released. Tyrone Gale, the driver was not injured. James McNair, also known as Jimmy Mack, from Peeksville, New York passed away in the crash.
Tracy starred in “Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock” and “The Tracy Morgan Show.” He was also on two shows of Animal Planet’s, “Tanked,” with Brett Raymer and Wayde King. He had them build him a shark and octopus tank.
Do you believe that many drivers are becoming too used to the computer system in vehicles that automatically stops, slows down and/or alerts drivers to danger ahead? Could this accident have been prevented if Kevin didn't have this alert system and had to rely on his own driving capability by being a watchful driver?