NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBS) — A National Transportation Safety Board report says the driver in the crash that seriously injured actor Tracy Morgan and killed another man was going 20 mph over the speed limit.
The report, released Thursday, also said Wal-Mart trucker Kevin Roper was within the allowable driving time of 14 hours on the road.
Authorities said Roper failed to slow for traffic ahead at about 12:54 a.m. on June 7th in the northbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike in Cranbury Township.
Investigators say Roper swerved to avoid a crash. Instead, they said, his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan’s chauffeured limo bus, killing Morgan’s close friend and fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and injuring Morgan and three other people.
The NTSB report says Roper’s truck was traveling at 65 mph for the 60 seconds preceding the collision with the Mercedes-Benz limo van. The NTSB report says that about a half-mile before the crash location, speed limit signs were posted that reduced the speed from 55 mph to 45 mph because of construction.
With respect to the maximum 14-hour consecutive duty period for commercial motor vehicle drivers, the NTSB report said Roper had logged 13 hours 32 minutes at the time of the collision.
In addition, the NTSB report said investigators are compiling and analyzing information to determine the activities of Roper and the amount of rest he received in the hours and days preceding the crash.
Roper pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges.
Morgan remains in the hospital facing a long road to recovery.
Meanwhile, the preliminary report is renewing calls Thursday for patience and vigilance in Tri-State work zones.
“We want to make sure that the workers that are in the work zones come home safely just like the traveling public,” PennDOT District Executive Lester Toaso said.
Just about a week before Morgan’s accident, a Pennsylvania Turnpike worker was killed in West Pikeland Township when a tractor trailer entered a lane closed for maintenance.
Not following the rules can be both deadly and costly.
“Those driving 11 miles per hour or more above the posted speed in a work zone, automatically lose their license for 15 days,” Toaso said.
Fines are also doubled in active work zones.
CBS 3 reporter Jan Carabeo contributed to this report.
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