Police: Trucker in Tracy Morgan Crash Awake Over 24 hours

By: NBC Today
By: NBC Today

"I was face down on the asphalt. It was unreal. I didn't know what happened. Shattered glass and things like that. It all happened so fast,"

Trenton N.J. The Walmart truck driver blamed for the highway pileup that left comedian Tracy Morgan in critical condition and killed his mentor had not slept for more than 24 hours before the crash, officials charged Monday.

Kevin Roper, 35, is expected to appear in a New Jersey courtroom Monday to face charges of vehicular homicide, assault and reckless driving.

A criminal complaint said Roper, who lives in Georgia, was behind the wheel "without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours."

Federal regulations limit truckers to 11 hours of driving during a 14-hour work day, with no more than 70 hours a week on the road without extra breaks. Drivers who are too sleepy to drive safely must pull over, the regulations say.

The number of fatal crashes involving large trucks rose between 2009 and 2012 after a four-year decline. Fatigue is a major factor; 13 percent of crashes involve a driver who is not properly rested, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports.

Roper's big rig slammed into a Mercedes Sprinter limo bus that was carrying Morgan, stand-up comedians Ardie Fuqua Jr., Harris Stanton and James McNair, and three others, according to officials.

The limo overturned on its left side and crashed into several other vehicles.

McNair, 62, a close friend and mentor to the "30 Rock" star, was killed.

Morgan remains in critical condition after surgery on a broken leg, but his spokesman said he is more responsive.

Limo driver Tyrone Gale said it was a "great day turned tragic in seconds."

"I was face down on the asphalt. It was unreal. I didn't know what happened. Shattered glass and things like that. It all happened so fast," he told NBC Philadelphia after being released from the hospital on Saturday.

On his Facebook page, Gale wrote: "I can only say feeling helpless on the highway was very hard to take. There was nothing I could do but scream at times.

"I am truly sad for the loss of James McNair. This is not something I will be able to forget in my lifetime. I won't pretend like I knew them deeply, but I will say I truly know when I'm around good people and these men are. RIP James McNair."

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