Tracy Morgan Screamed for Help After Crash, Limo Driver Recalls
(NEW YORK) -- Comedian Tracy Morgan screamed for help after the limousine bus he was riding in was involved in a fatal multi-car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, his driver recalled.
The crash early Saturday killed one man on the limo bus and injured four others, including Morgan, 45.
"I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help," said his driver, Tyrone Gale. "I climbed up on the body of the limo bus ... but I couldn't reach them."
N.J. State Police said that a truck driver didn't see traffic slowing in front of his 18-wheeler until it was too late, crashing into the vehicle carrying comedian Morgan and his entourage. They are looking into whether the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
"I just remember the impact ... We didn't know which way was up, which way was down. I don't know if we flipped several times or one time," said Gale. "I saw the condition of everybody and I knew it would just make it worse if I tried to pull them up and out of the vehicle."
The truck driver, Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Ga., was charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. He surrendered Saturday night and was released from jail, according to the Middlesex County Department of Corrections.
James McNair, a passenger on board the limo bus with Morgan, was killed in the crash, police said. He was a comedy writer for Morgan.
Morgan, his assistant, Jeff Millea, and comedian Ardie Fuqua were listed in critical condition, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital spokesman Peter Haigney told ABC's New York affiliate WABC. Harris Stanton, another comedian, was treated and released.
Morgan's rep, Lewis Kay, said his family was with the comedian and "he is receiving excellent care."
The group was returning from a performance of his "Turn it Funny" tour in Dover, Del., Friday night.
"A great show in Dover, a lot of excitement going home," said Gale. "Tracy was holding his baby before we left and he said, 'I'm holding my princess.'"
The six-vehicle crash happened in the northbound lanes at mile marker 71.5 about 1 a.m. Saturday, according to N.J. State Police.
The crash was a chain reaction caused by the first truck, a Peterbilt with Oklahoma plates, New Jersey State Police Sgt. First Class Gregory Williams said.
When the driver of the truck suddenly became aware of the Mercedes Sprinter limo bus in front of him, he swerved left to avoid it, but struck the limo bus in the rear and then hit another vehicle, Williams said.
The limo bus carrying Morgan lost control and began rotating clockwise and then turned over onto its left side. While it was out of control, the limo bus hit a Buick, which crashed into a Ford F150 pickup truck, and another tractor-trailer.
The truck that caused the crash came to rest on the left shoulder after hitting a guardrail.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway told ABC News that the NTSB is dispatching a team to investigate the crash along with the N.J. State Police.
The NTSB is going to focus on the "broad issues concerning commercial traffic safety," and is expected to be on the ground by Saturday evening or Sunday, Holloway said.
Morgan has four children, including a daughter to whom his fiancee Megan Wollover gave birth last July.
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