Driver charged in Tracy Morgan crash pleads not guilty in first court appearance

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Kemberly Richardson reports on Kevin Roper's first court appearance Wednesday in New Brunswick. (WABC)

The driver that police say started the chain-reaction crash that killed one person and sent Tracy Morgan and two friends to the hospital in critical condition pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance Wednesday.

Thirty-five-year-old Kevin Roper is facing charges that include death by auto and assault by auto. A judge kept his bail at $50,000.

Roper was behind the wheel of a Walmart truck on the New Jersey Turnpike in Cranbury early Saturday morning when he slammed into the back of the luxury SUV limousine carrying Morgan and his friends, who were returning from a comedy show in Delaware.

Prosecutors say it appears Roper, who admitted not having slept in at least 24 hours, may have fallen asleep behind the wheel. Wal-Mart has said it believes he was in compliance with federal safety regulations.

Morgan suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs, and he is listed in critical but stable condition and expected to spends several weeks in the hospital.

Comedian James McNair, better known as Jimmy Mack, died in the SUV. Harrison Stanton, 37, survived the accident with a severely broke wrist. He spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News, saying he didn't even know the vehicle flipped over.

"It happened so fast," he said. "When it stopped, Tracy was on top of me. I didn't see anyone else. Just metal, and I could see stars from my side because the top was ripped open. I heard a driver, you know, cursing out the other driver, and I was just saying help me, get me out of here. I was trying to get out."

Stanton, also a comedian, said Jimmy Mack was a good guy who will be missed. He is still very much concerned and sending up a lot of prayers for his friends.
Related Topics:
entertainmenttraffic accidenttraffic fatalitiesnew jersey newscrashaccidenttracy morganNew BrunswickCranbury
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