Driver fatigue may be a huge contributing factor in accidents that take place nationwide. An accident that took place just last year could have been the direct result of a driver who had simply been on the road for too long and wasn’t as acutely aware of his surroundings as he should have been. Comedian Tracy Morgan was one of the victims of this particular accident—he suffered head trauma from the accident as well as a broken leg and broken ribs; he was also in a coma for two weeks due to the extent and severity of the injuries he suffered. One of the other passengers in the limousine that was carrying Morgan and friends that was struck during the accident was a fellow comedian by the name of James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, who subsequently died from the injuries he sustained during the crash.
The accident occurred on a New Jersey turnpike that was under construction at that time. A Wal-Mart truck operated by driver Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, Ga., slammed into the back of the limousine carrying Tracy Morgan and his friends. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has stated that Roper had reportedly been awake for over 28 hours when the accident occurred—an issue that may have impaired Roper’s ability to react clearly while on the road. In addition to the driver fatigue Kevin Roper may have been suffering, he was also in excess of the 45 MPH speed limit posted in accordance with the construction zone he was traveling through before striking the limousine. The NTSB has indicated that due to the excessive speed Roper was traveling at, he started a chain reaction involving 21 individuals in 6 vehicles after colliding with the back of the van-like limousine. Information about the additional individuals who were involved in the accident and the injuries they sustained was not immediately divulged.
According to reports provided for the accident, the limousine these men were traveling in had been customized. Because of this, a sheet of plywood that had been used to divide the area between where the passengers sit and where the driver is actually became a hazard and prevented the occupants of the vehicle from being able to escape safely. In addition to the injuries sustained by Tracy Morgan, three other occupants inside the limousine suffered serious injuries—details of which have not been provided at this time. The article also does not provide the extent of the injuries sustained by James McNair that later led to his death. The men were returning from a show they had performed at in Dover, Delaware when they were struck by the Wal-Mart truck on the New Jersey highway.
Kevin Roper has subsequently been charged in New Jersey with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto in a state court. The charges against Roper have stated that they were filed in part due to the fact that he “operated the truck without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours resulting in a motor vehicle accident.” This offense is punishable in accordance with New Jersey state laws that indicate an individual who was found to have been operating a vehicle knowingly after being awake for a period of time longer than 24 hours could be charged with this crime.
In addition to the sentencing faced by Kevin Roper, Tracy Morgan and two of his friends that were injured in the accident filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart that was settled for an undisclosed sum of money. James McNair’s children also filed a wrongful death claim via an Arkansas-based company by the name of Bentonville, and were awarded approximately $10 million for the claim.
Tracy Morgan has not performed since the accident took place. He faces a long road to recovery, both mentally and physically, as a result of the injuries he sustained during this possibly preventable car crash.
Driver fatigue is very real and is happening everyday on the roads of Massachusetts. A tired driver handling an 18 wheeler can be extremely dangerous and can can potentially lead to fatal consequences. If you have been involved in an accident with a truck or commercial vehicle and believe driver fatigue may have contributed to it give one of our Boston car accident lawyer a call for a free consultation. We are available around the clock.
Additional information and quotes may be found at the following link: http://www.bostonherald.com/inside_track/celebrity_news/2015/08/investigators_focus_on_driver_fatigue_in_tracy_morgan_crash