The truck driver who allegedly caused the automobile pile-up that critically injured actor Tracy Morgan pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto, since the crash resulted in the death of comedian James McNair, who performed as "Jimmy Mack," and injured four others. Walmart truck driver Kevin Roper's arraignment, which took place at New Jersey's Middlesex County Superior Court, followed accusations that he had not slept for 24 hours prior to the crash. His bail was kept at $50,000, according to The Associated Press.
Police wrote in their criminal complaint that Roper had failed to see the traffic slowing in front of him due to lack of sleep, though it remains unclear how they determined he was sleep-deprived, CNN reports. Walmart reps have supported Roper, saying they believed he was in compliance with the federal laws, in regard to rest, which say a driver can't spend more than 11 hours driving within a maximum shift of 14 hours. They said that if an investigation proved that the truck itself was at fault, that they would accept responsibility.
Morgan was unconscious after the crash, according to CNN, and suffered broken ribs, a broken nose and a broken leg. As of Tuesday, Morgan was in critical but stable condition.
The former 30 Rock star and Saturday Night Live alum has undergone surgery for a broken leg and will remain hospitalized for several weeks, his publicist said. Following internet speculation that Morgan's leg might be amputated as a result of his injuries, Morgan's rep issued a statement on behalf of his fiancée, Megan Wollover. "The concern for his well-being has been overwhelming, but Megan is respectfully asking that the media await official word through these channels before speculating (mostly inaccurately) on his condition," he wrote. "Rumors about amputating his leg are completely fabricated."
Television network FXX, which greenlighted a Tracy Morgan comedy pilot last year, also released a statement to allay fears that the show could be in jeopardy. "The only thing we are concerned with is the health and recovery of Tracy Morgan and the victims of this tragic accident," network reps wrote. "We will support Tracy and his family in every way possible throughout his recovery. At the point when Tracy has recovered and decides that he is ready to go back to work, his show will be waiting for him." The show was expected to premiere in January 2015, A.V. Club reports.
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