An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board has shed some light on the accident that nearly cost Tracy Morgan his life and killed his close friend and mentor James McNair.
Kevin Roper, the Walmart truck driver who rear-ended Morgan's limo bus last June, had been awake for 28 hours and driving for nearly 14, the investigation concluded. Roper was going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone when he caused the multi-car pileup and his fatigue likely contributed to the fatal crash. If he hadn’t been speeding, he would have noticed that traffic was slowing, had time to brake and prevented the accident.
Though Walmart settled with Morgan and McNair's family in May for an unknown amount, Roper still faces charges of death by auto. He’s pleaded not guilty. According to NTSB investigators, Roper was nearing the end of a 14 hour shift — the maximum legally allowed — and couldn’t have made it to his destination without going over. Roper had driven 800 miles, from Georgia to Delaware, before he even started the shift.
After the accident, Walmart banned drivers from traveling more than 250 miles for work unless they get nine hours of sleep between arriving and beginning their shifts.
The report also criticized New Jersey emergency workers for taking nearly 40 minutes to get the crash victims out of the limo bus and moving them without precautions, as well as Morgan and his party for failing to wear seat belts — a point Walmart unsuccessfully tried to exploit in fighting Morgan's lawsuit.
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