*The man behind the wheel of the Wal-Mart tractor trailer that slammed into a limousine van on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing one passenger and injuring comedian Tracy Morgan and three others, had worked for more than 13 hours before the crash and was traveling at 60 mph in a 45 mph zone, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Kevin Roper pleaded not guilty last week to charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto. Roper was driving a Wal-Mart truck early Saturday when he allegedly swerved to avoid slowed traffic on the turnpike and plowed into Morgan’s limo.
Roper had a logged a total of 13 hours and 32 minutes on the job that day, the NTSB report said. The maximum consecutive duty period allowed for commercial drivers is 14 hours. The report also states that Roper was traveling at 65 mph for 60 seconds preceding the crash in a construction zone where the speed limit had been reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph.
A criminal complaint alleges that the 35-year-old Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours before the accident. Wal-Mart has said it believes he was in compliance with federal safety regulations.
The 45-year-old Morgan suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs. His friend and fellow comedian James McNair was killed, and two other passengers were seriously injured.
Morgan underwent surgery for his broken leg and his condition was upgraded earlier this week from critical to fair.