Prosecutor: Trucker in Morgan crash hadn’t slept

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FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2012 file photo, comedian Tracy Morgan performs at “Eddie Murphy: One Night Only,” a celebration of Murphy’s career at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif. Morgan is recovering but is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks after having surgery on a broken leg suffered in a chain-reaction crash on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday, June 7, 2014, that left two others critically injured and one dead. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2012 file photo, comedian Tracy Morgan performs at “Eddie Murphy: One Night Only,” a celebration of Murphy’s career at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif. Morgan is recovering but is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks after having surgery on a broken leg suffered in a chain-reaction crash on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday, June 7, 2014, that left two others critically injured and one dead. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2010 file photo, Tracy Morgan attends Comedy Central’s ‘Night Of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert For Autism Education’ at the Beacon Theatre in New York. Morgan is in critical condition at a hospital in New Brunswick, NJ Saturday morning June 7, 2014 following a violent multi-vehicle crash on the NJ Turnpike overnight. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

This photo provided by the New Jersey State Police shows Kevin Roper. Roper, a Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia, was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the wake of a deadly chain-reaction crash on the New Jersey Turnpike early Saturday, June 7, 2014, that left actor-comedian Tracy Morgan and two others critically injured and another man dead. (AP Photo/New Jersey State Police)

In this image from video the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on it’s side early Saturday morning June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan remained hospitalized as state and federal officials continued their investigation of the six-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that took the life of a Morgan friend and left two others seriously injured, authorities say. (AP Photo/Will Vaultz Photography)

In this image from video the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on it’s side, left, as emergency responders work the accident scene early Saturday morning June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan remained hospitalized as state and federal officials continued their investigation of the six-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that took the life of a Morgan friend and left two others seriously injured, authorities say. (AP Photo/Will Vaultz Photography)

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — The truck driver from Georgia accused of triggering the highway crash that injured Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours before the accident, authorities said Monday as the actor recovered in a New Jersey hospital.

Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper was originally expected to make an initial appearance in state court Monday, but a court official said the Jonesboro, Georgia, resident is scheduled in court on Wednesday. It wasn’t clear Monday if Roper had retained an attorney. He remained free after posting $50,000 bond.

Authorities said the 35-year-old Roper apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead early Saturday in Cranbury Township and swerved at the last minute to avoid a crash. Instead, his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan’s chauffeured Mercedes limo bus, killing comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, authorities said.

The 45-year-old Morgan, a former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” cast member, remained in critical condition Monday. Morgan’s spokesman, Lewis Kay, said he was “more responsive” Sunday after having surgery for a broken leg.

Kay said Morgan suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs and is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks. He said Morgan’s family is “tremendously overwhelmed and appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from his fans.”

Roper has been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. Under New Jersey law, to prove both crimes the state has to demonstrate the defendant operated the vehicle recklessly when the injuries or death were caused.

According to the criminal complaint, Roper was operating the truck “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours resulting in a motor vehicle accident.” It doesn’t specify the basis for that assertion.

Tyrone Gale, who was driving the limo bus, told ABC News that he was disoriented after the vehicle flipped over and could hear Morgan yelling for help.

“I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help,” Gale said. “I climbed up on the body of the limo bus … but I couldn’t reach them.”

Wal-Mart President Bill Simon said in a statement that the company “will take full responsibility” if authorities determine its truck caused the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board is working with state police to look at any issues in the crash related to commercial trucking and limousine safety.

Federal regulations permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel. The other time is usually devoted to loading and unloading and paperwork. They must have a minimum of 10 hours off between work shifts to sleep. Drivers can work a maximum of 60 or 70 hours per week, depending upon the type of company they work for.

Safety advocates said they hope the accident in New Jersey will help their case.

“This isn’t an aberrant or unusual thing that just sort of happened for no reason,” said Henry Jasny, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “This is part of a systemic problem of having tired people driving at night and driving large trucks.”

But Dave Osiecki, vice president of the American Trucking Association, said no regulations can prevent a driver from making “bad choices.”

Morgan,

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