In June 2014, comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a very serious accident, as you may have heard on the news or from another source. A driver and six passengers were in the limousine carrying Tracy Morgan at the time and suffered serious injuries, along with the fatality of Comedian James McNair of Peeksill, NY. You may know Tracy Morgan as an energetic, fun-loving guy, but this was the night that changed his life forever in many different ways.
New Jersey, like many states, abides by laws for commercial vehicles to assure that the freeways are safe of all harm. It was found that, in the Tracy Morgan accident, Kevin Roper, the 35-year old commercial WalMart truck driver responsible for the accident, was not abiding by commercial trucking laws. He was overly fatigued from long hours and was speeding at a 65 in a 45 mph zone in early hours. When he headed onto the New Jersey Turnpike, his automatic-braking system was unengaged, which can pose many issues on the roadways. On top of that, the accident took place in a construction zone, where the speed limit was reduced.
Many believe that the accident could have been prevented if Roper had been obeying the speed limit that day and applying the brakes at the same point before traffic slowed by the construction. Nobody inside the limousine ever saw it coming. They never expected Roper to come up so quickly into the construction zone after driving 800 miles the night before without rest and slam into their limousine, turning their worlds completely upside down.
When first responders arrived at the scene, everything was in disrepair. James McNair was pronounced dead at the scene, many passengers suffered injuries from flailing inside the vehicle due to inactive seatbelt use, and Tracy Morgan was found with head trauma, a broken leg, and broken ribs. However, things could have been even worse than this. First responders had a difficult time removing passengers from the vehicle due to the limousine only having one emergency exit and jammed doors. Robert Sumwalt, a board member, agreed all involved were quite lucky to have survived – he shuddered to think what would have happened if the limousine had caught on fire on top of it all.
After the Accident
Just recently, proceedings continued for Kevin Roper. Roper was not in court for the indictment and arraignments are still ongoing even at this time. After a federal investigation took place, it was concluded that Mr. Roper had not slept in the 28 hours before the crash. He was charged with the first-degree aggravated manslaughter, vehicle homicide, and eight counts of aggravated assault.
But, you may wonder, how have things been for Tracy Morgan? Morgan, who was 47 years old at the time, was in a coma for two weeks after the accident. He spent a long time working through recovery and getting back on his two feet to be able to perform as he had been for years as a comedian. Morgan recently returned to Hollywood with an appearance at the Emmys. He was asked in an interview if everything was back to normal after what he experienced in the accident, and this is what he had to say:
“Well, you’re never going to be normal after you go through something like that. You don’t die for a few weeks and then come back to normal, trust me. Something’s going to be missing, something’s going to be gained – you just got to live your life after that.” He has been quoted for saying that God has told him “his room ain’t ready… I still got something for you to do.”
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Is Truck Driver Fatigue Negligence?
Yes, despite the fact that many long hours are expected to be spent on the road for commercial truck drivers, there are rules to be abided by. When a truck driver is fatigued, they pose a risk due to the fact that they could nod off to sleep at any given time at the wheel of the truck. Driving for 12-14 hours at a time is normal on many occasions, which means that their mental capacity could be reduced by the lack of sleep. The federal government has made some changes to things that state no truck driver is legally permitted to drive more than 11 consecutive hours without taking a 10-hour break in between two driving shifts. This means, in a seven-day period, truck drivers are able to drive for a maximum 60-77 hours. This is meant to reduce the number of accidents, just like that of Tracy Morgan.
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