Popular television actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was traveling with friends in a limo bus when a tractor-trailer owned by Walmart rear-ended them, forcing the limo bus to flip. The collision started a chain reaction that involved four other nearby cars.
One passenger, a 62-year-old comedian named James McNair, who went by the name “Jimmy Mack”, was killed instantly when the limo bus rolled over. Morgan and three other passengers were all hospitalized with serious injuries. A fifth passenger, Harris Stanton, was treated and released.
Morgan suffered several broken ribs, a broken nose, a broken leg and a broken femur as a result of the accident. The comedian was classified as “critical, but responsive” on June 9 and was reportedly “heartbroken” over the death of Jimmy Mack.
Kevin Roper was driving the Walmart truck. According to reports, Roper noticed the slow moving traffic but was too late to avoid rear-ending the limo bus. News outlets reported that he had been awake for 24 hours when the accident occurred, and may even have been asleep at the wheel when he crashed into Morgan’s party.
After 24 hours without sleep, a drowsy driver can be just as impaired as a drunk driver with a blood-alcohol level of .10 percent. That is legally intoxicated in all states. Sleep deprived drivers can also be prone to poorer concentration, slower reaction time and impaired judgment, all of which increases the chance of an accident exponentially.
Roper’s refusal to rest had already violated several laws by the time the accident occurred. In 2013, the federal government imposed several new regulations on the trucking industry meant to help drivers get more rest and prevent sleepy drivers from putting other motorists at risk. Several key policy changes included:
- Drivers can only be on the road for 11 hours a day, and they can only be classified as “on duty” for 14 hours a day.
- A driver cannot be on duty for more than 70 hours in a calendar week (down from 82 previously).
- Drivers must take a 30-minute break every eight hours.
No driver can function fully without a proper night’s rest, but this driver went beyond missing a nap or driving a little sleepy. He went more than 24 hours without sleep, more than twice the number of hours permitted by trucking laws.
Even before he got behind the wheel, there was no chance that Roper could perform his job safely, or even competently. As a professional driver who was well aware of national trucking regulations, he took a completely unnecessary and ill-advised risk that resulted in the serious injury of several innocent people, and the death of Jimmy Mack.
So far, Roper has been charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently free on a $50,000 bond.
Who is Liable If a Driver Falls Asleep at the Wheel?
Sleepy drivers are still negligent, and a driver’s decision to drive drowsy can have painful or lethal consequences for you and your loved ones. If you have questions about your trucking accident, call Spevack Law Firm to discuss your legal options. We have experience holding dangerous drivers and negligent trucking companies responsible for their actions, and we can help you get fair compensation for your injuries.
[Did You Know: According to the NHTSA,damage caused by fatigued drivers costs American taxpayers $12.5 billion dollars every year.]
Spevack Law Firm – Middlesex County Personal Injury Lawyers