The truck accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan has seen Walmart offer to take full responsibility as the precise circumstances of the accident, which killed one man and critically injured three others, including Morgan, continue to unfold.
The truck driver Kevin Roper, 35, has been charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in the accident, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office says. He turned himself into state police and has been released on $50,000 bail.
However Federal authorities are now investigating commercial trucking and other safety issues on the New Jersey turnpike and legal action is in the wings following the accident.
Roper, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in to state police. He was released on $50,000 bail Saturday night and has been placed on administrative leave, Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said Sunday.
Walmart’s top executive admitted his company’s truck was involved.
“If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility,” said CEO Bill Simon.
James McNair, a 62-year-old comedian known as Jimmy Mack, was killed in the crash, authorities said Saturday. McNair also wrote for Morgan and was one of his closest friends.
According to a Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital spokesman, Morgan, 45, assistant Jeffrey Millea, 36, of Shelton, Connecticut, and comic Ardie Fuqua, 43, of Jersey City, remain in critical condition this morning.
Another comedian, Harris Stanton, 37, of Brooklyn, was treated and released from the hospital after the accident.
The Walmart CEO Simon said he was “profoundly sorry” that a Walmart truck was involved in the accident, and the company said it is cooperating fully with law enforcement.
Morgan, Fuqua, Millea and Stanton were traveling from a gig at Dover Downs Casino in Delaware early Saturday when their 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van was struck by Roper’s truck on the New Jersey Turnpike, according to State Police.
Morgan’s driver Tyrone Gale told ABC News that the impact felt like an explosion, after which the van felt like it flipped several times.
“I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help,” Gale told ABC. “I climbed up on the body of the limo bus … but I couldn’t reach them.”
“I can only say feeling helpless on the highway was very hard to take. There was nothing I could do but scream at times,” Gale said in a post to his Facebook page. “This is not something I will be able to forget in my lifetime.”
Morgan first gained prominence as a “Saturday Night Live” cast member. He went on to star in the critically acclaimed television series “30 Rock.”