Fourteen months have passed since Tracy Morgan was nearly killed in a six-car wreck on the New Jersey Turnpike, and the comedian’s recovery has been a slow one.
Earlier this summer, Morgan said he is still haunted by the death of his “comrade in comedy” James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, who died after a tractor-trailer smashed into the limousine he and Morgan were riding in in June 2014. Morgan, a normally vibrant and frenetic comedian, has had to relearn how to walk and still struggles with memory issues due to the injuries suffered in the crash.
In recent weeks, Morgan has shown flashes of his old self. Photographers snapped shots of him smiling at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida with his fiancee and stepping out from behind the wheel of a Lamborghini in New York on separate occasions this summer.
The investigation into the deadly crash has seemed to move as slowly as Morgan’s recovery. But on Tuesday morning, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart confirmed the driver of the truck that struck Morgan’s limousine had been awake for more than 28 hours before the collision.
Kevin Roper, the 35-year-old who was driving the Wal-Mart tractor trailer, left his home in Georgia and drove overnight to a distribution center before beginning the run that ended with the crash on June 1, 2014, Hart said on Tuesday.
The NTSB chairman made the remarks at a hearing in Washington to discuss the crash. Roper, who was supposed to be working a 14-hour shift, pleaded not guilty to one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in New Jersey.
Hart also said Morgan and his fellow passengers should have gotten "pre-trip safety briefings” before the limousine left Delaware on the night of the crash. Morgan, McNair and the other passengers injured in the wreck were not wearing seatbelts, Hart said.
While it didn’t acknowledge Roper’s sleep deprivation, Wal-Mart accepted responsibility for the fatal wreck after the retail giant settled a lawsuit with Morgan earlier this year. The terms were not disclosed.
Calls to Morgan’s Los Angeles-based representatives were not immediately returned on Tuesday, but in a June interview with Matt Lauer on “Today,” the comedian vowed to return to work again one day.
“I love comedy and I’ll never stop loving her. I love comedy and I can’t wait to get back to her. But right now my goal is just to heal and get better because I’m not 100% yet,” he said. “I’m not. And when I’m there, you’ll know it. I’ll get back to making you laugh. I promise you.”
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