Entertainment

Hundreds Gather In Peekskill To Pay Tribute To Comedian James McNair

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Funeral services were held Thursday for a comedian killed in a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that also injured comedian Tracy Morgan and others.

Friends and family gathered at the Paramount Theater in Peekskill on Thursday to honor James “Uncle Jimmy Mack” McNair, who died in the six-car pile up early Saturday morning.

As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported, there were traditional songs and prayers, but when remembering McNair’s life, friends and family said laughs were also required.

“If another person come here and try to sell bootleg DVDs, you need to get rid of them immediately,” joked one attendee.

In a moving tribute, McNair’s son sang a song for his father during the service.

“I just wanna say that I miss your smiling face,” he sang.

Friends and family said as much as he loved laughter, McNair was just as passionate about serious matters. His work in the community was one reason the mayor of Peekskill presented McNair’s children with a special proclamation during the service, Champion reported.

“He was very serious about talking about the youth of our community. He didn’t fool around when you talked about health care,” said Mayor Frank Catalina.

McNair’s funeral comes a day after the man accused of causing the crash made his first court appearance in New Jersey.

Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Georgia, pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges.

Police said Roper was driving a Walmart semi-trailer when it slammed into the back of a limo bus carrying McNair, Morgan and others as they returned from a standup show in Delaware. The limo bus overtuned, setting off a chain reaction crash that involved a second tractor-trailer, a sport-utility vehicle and two cars. No one in the other vehicles was injured.

The 45-year-old Morgan suffered a broken femur, broken nose and several broken ribs. He underwent surgery Sunday and is expected to remain at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. for several weeks.

Two other passengers in Morgan’s vehicle were seriously injured. Another passenger was treated and released from the hospital Saturday and the limo driver and one more passenger weren’t injured.

According to a criminal complaint, Roper was operating the truck “recklessly,” and “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours.”

Roper is being held on $50,000 bail.

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