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Mon, 09 Jun 2014 15:06:50 +0000
(NEW YORK) -- The man accused in the highway crash that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of Morgan's colleagues is accused of vehicular homicide and not sleeping for 24 hours prior to the crash.
Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Ga., is set to appear in court Wednesday to answer charges against him, according to a court document.
He is accused of slamming a Walmart big rig into Morgan’s limo bus early Saturday along the New Jersey Turnpike, police said. The crash killed one man on the limo bus and injured four others, including Morgan, 45.
Morgan and two others remained in critical condition Monday morning, a spokesperson for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital told ABC News. Morgan was recovering from a broken leg, femur, nose and several ribs. His rep, Lewis Kay, said Morgan was “more responsive” Sunday.
“We expect him to remain in the hospital for several weeks. His family is tremendously overwhelmed and appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from his fans,” Kay said.
Roper allegedly "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," according to documents from the Cranbury Township Municipal Court.
The six-vehicle crash happened in the northbound lanes at mile marker 71.5 at around 1 a.m. Saturday, according to New Jersey State Police.
Roper turned himself in after the crash, charged with one count of vehicular homicide and four counts of assault by auto. Walmart has placed him on administrative leave and promised “to take full responsibility” if the accident was caused by the company’s driver.
The driver of the limo bus said that after the crash, he heard Morgan screaming.
"I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help," said his driver, Tyrone Gale. "I climbed up on the body of the limo bus...but I couldn't reach them."
Morgan and six others were on their way back to New York from a stand-up comedy show in Delaware. Sources said the truck swerved to avoid the limo, but instead hit it -- causing the limo to lose control, slam into other cars and overturn.
Morgan’s longtime writing partner, James McNair, died at the scene.
Since the first hours after the accident, investigators have focused on whether Roper dozed off behind the wheel, because he closed in on Morgan’s limo and other slow-moving traffic so quickly and only maneuvered to avoid a crash at the last moment.
In talking to investigators after the crash, police told ABC News, Roper said he had not realized there was a pocket of slow-moving traffic in front of him until it was too late.
Morgan, his assistant, Jeff Millea, and Ardie Fuqua were all critically injured in the crash. Harris Stanton, another comedian, was treated and released.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash along the New Jersey State Police.
Morgan has four children, including a daughter with his fiancee, Megan Wollover, that was born last July.
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