WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board has lamed a fatigued Walmart truck driver for the crash last year on the New Jersey Turnpike that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian.
As CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported, the Walmart truck slammed into a vehicle in Cranbury on June 17, 2014.READ MORE: Suffolk County Officials Urge Residents To Check Out 'Smart 911' App To Help Emergency Responders Save Lives
The vehicle was carrying Tracy Morgan and several friends, and the crash left the comedian with severe brain trauma and broken bones and killed his fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair of Peekskill.
A year later, Morgan talked about the traumatic accident. “He was a good man, and it just hurts me to see that he’s gone,” Morgan said.
NTSB investigators met on Tuesday and spoke off camera, saying the crash could have been prevented and pointing the finger at Walmart driver Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia.
“He only had four hours of sleep opportunity in the 33 hours prior, and had been awake in excess of 28 hours at the time of the crash,” NTSB Senior Accident Investigator Dennis Collins told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Rebecca Granet and WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola.
NTSB Managing Director Tom Zoeller said the length of time that Roper was awake “resulted in his delayed to slowing and stopped traffic in an active work zone.”
Investigators said Roper refused to be interviewed, so he they examined his work and phone records.
The investigators said they learned that Roper missed a night’s sleep, and was off the clock when he chose to drive from Georgia to Delaware to start his Walmart truck route.
He then immediately got behind the wheel of the company truck, and the deadly crash happened on his route hours later.
“This crash demonstrates the consequences of even one poor decision regarding fatigue,” Collins said.
The NTSB provided a simulation of the crash where speed was also a factor as a result of fatigue. They said Roper was going 65 mph, when the speed limit had been reduced to 45 because of construction.