The Walmart truck driver was speeding and was very close to federal limits on how long he could be behind the wheel.
The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on their investigation into the accident that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and the evidence points to the fault of the Walmart truck driver who allegedly caused the crash, according to CNN.
The NTSB report states the driver of the Walmart-owned Peterbilt truck, 35-year-old Kevin Roper, was speeding at 65 miles per hour in the minute leading up to the accident. Roper allegedly ignored signs warning of construction, lane closures and reduced speed limits.
The report also claims that Roper was dangerously close to federal limits on how long he could legally be behind the wheel of a vehicle. Federal law dictates that commercial drivers must limit themselves to 14-hour shifts with less than 11 hours on the road before they must rest. Roper’s shift had started 13 hours and 32 minutes before the crash and his drive time total was 9 hours and 37 minutes.
Information in the report is based on a small computer in the truck which gauges factors such as speed and vehicle performance.
Roper has been charged with vehicular homicide for the death of James McNair and assault by auto for injuring Morgan, Ardie Fuqua, Jeff Millea and Harris Stanton in the crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Roper has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is out on a $50,000 bond. The truck driver recently launched a series of tweets in which he claimed the only reason he was being charged criminally was because there was a celebrity involved in the accident.
Walmart released a statement last week that they believed Roper was operating within federal guidelines, but will take full responsibility if the investigation proves that their truck was to blame for the horrific accident. “The details are the subject of an ongoing investigation, and we are cooperating fully with the appropriate law enforcement agencies,” said a spokesperson for the company.
Good news came two days ago when Morgan was upgraded from a critical to a fair condition. “Happy to pass along that Tracy has been upgraded to fair condition, which is a great improvement,” Morgan’s publicist, Lewis Kay, said to CNN. “His personality is certainly starting to come back as well.”