Tribune newspaper and wire reports
9:50 PM EDT, June 7, 2014
Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, best known for his roles on "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock," was badly injured early Saturday when the limo bus he was riding in overturned in a multi-vehicle crash in New Jersey that killed another comic.
Morgan, 45, was in critical condition in an intensive care unit at a hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, police and his spokesman said.
The comedian James McNair, also known as Jimmy Mack, was killed in the crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, police said. McNair, who was 63 and lived in Peekskill, New York, was riding in the limo bus with Morgan.
At least three other people were hospitalized following the crash, in which a tractor-trailer struck the back of the limo bus at around 1 a.m. local time near Cranbury Township, New Jersey State Police spokesman Gregory Williams said, citing a preliminary investigation.
After the collision, involving another tractor-trailer, a sport utility vehicle and two other cars, the limo bus was on its side, Williams said.
Morgan was part of a stand-up comedy "Turn it Funny" tour and had performed at a Dover, Delaware, casino on Friday night.
He was taken by helicopter to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Center in New Brunswick, Williams said. Morgan's spokesman said the comic would remain there on Saturday.
Morgan's publicist, Lewis Kay, released a statement that reads, "Tracy remains in critical condition at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. He sustained these injuries in an accident that occurred early this morning as one of several passengers in a chauffeured SUV returning from a tour date in Delaware. His family is now with him and he is receiving excellent care. We don’t anticipate much of a change in his condition today but will provide a further update once more information becomes available."
Morgan's assistant Jeff Millea and the comedians Ardie Fuqua and Harris Stanton also went to the same hospital. Hospital spokesman Peter Haigney said three of the patients there were in critical condition and one was in fair condition but declined to identify them, citing privacy laws.
The driver of the truck, 35-year-old Kevin Roper, was charged on Saturday with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said, adding that he was expected to surrender to authorities. Bail was set at $50,000.
A preliminary investigation determined that the tractor-trailer crashed into the van, a 2012 Mercedes Sprinter, as both vehicles traveled in the northbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike.
Four other vehicles were subsequently involved in the crash, and none of the occupants of those vehicles were injured
Police were still investigating the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board was also sending investigators.
Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon said in a written statement on Saturday that one of the company's trucks had been involved in the crash and said he was praying for the family and friends of McNair and everyone involved.
"We are working quickly to understand what happened and are cooperating fully with law enforcement to aid their investigation," Simon said. "The facts are continuing to unfold. If it's determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility."
'STAY STRONG TRACY MORGAN'
"A few days before his Friday show at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, a message was posted on Morgan's Twitter account that read: "Dover downs I'm coming with truck loads of funny Delaware stand up get those tix while u can baby!!!!!'
Fuqua had tweeted a link to his Facebook page after the show. "This is what it looks like from the stage to see a standing ovation from 1500 people. Then we traveled back to NYC in style in a luxury Mercedes Sprinter. Road life is a good life!" he wrote.
Morgan was on the road for his "Turn it Funny" stand-up comedy tour. He was booked to perform at a casino in Dover, Delaware, on Friday night and had been due to appear on Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"Sending prayers and love to @RealTracyMorgan & all injured in the NJ accident. I'm pulling for you brother," wrote "Psych" actor Dulé Hill.
Jay Mohr, like Morgan a "Saturday Night Live" alum, noted the severity of the accident. "I'm from NJ. For the Turnpike to be closed for hours is incredibly, frighteningly rare," he tweeted. "I love you @RealTracyMorgan. No more comics, God."
Jemele Hill, co-host of ESPN's "Numbers Never Lie," noted that she had just seen Morgan.
"Saying a prayer for @RealTracyMorgan. He was a guest on @ESPN_Numbers a few weeks ago. Very sweet and talented person," she wrote.
"Come on @RealTracyMurray @ARDIEFUQUA @harrisstanton you can survive this! Sending prayers." Morgan's former "30 Rock" co-star Judah Friedlander tweeted.
The tragedy goes even deeper for Fuqua: His son, Ardley Jamaal Fuqua, died in May 2012 in a basketball accident. He was elbowed in the heart and went into shock, Splitsider reported in a profile of Fuqua.
Fuqua's Facebook page, including the message about the show, was filled with prayers and well-wishes Saturday.
"Stay strong Tracy Morgan," the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons wrote. "We love you."
The comedian, a native of New York City, spent seven years on "Saturday Night Live" before leaving the cast in 2003. He went on to star in the sitcom "30 Rock" for seven seasons, playing an unhinged, reckless comedian called Tracy Jordan in a network television satire that caricatured his SNL days.
"30 Rock" also skewered Morgan's sometimes inflammatory stand-up routine. After reportedly joking during a performance in 2011 that he would stab his own son to death if he spoke in a "gay voice," Morgan publicly apologized.
Morgan, a diabetic, had a kidney transplant in 2010. He has three sons with his first wife, Sabina Morgan, and is now engaged to Megan Wollover, with whom he had a daughter in 2013.
Copyright © 2015, Reuters