Most people in Los Angeles are aware that comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured in a turnpike collision on June 7, 2014. Yet the exact cause of the accident is just now emerging from an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The accident happened at about 1:00 a.m. as Morgan and his comedy troupe were returning to New York after a performance in Atlantic City. Morgan’s limousine had reduced its speed as it entered a construction zone on the New Jersey Turnpike. A semi-trailer truck owned and operated by Wal-Mart slammed into the rear of the limo, killing one passenger and seriously injuring several others, including Morgan. The truck driver’s fatigue is receiving the primary blame for the tractor-trailer accident.
According to the NTSB investigation, the driver had driven for 12 hours to complete an 800-mile trip from his home in Georgia to his operating base in Delaware, where he picked up the truck. At the time of the collision, the driver had been awake for 28 consecutive hours and was into the 13th hour of his 14-hour shift. The speed limit at the place where the accident occurred had been reduced from 65 mph to 45 mph because of the construction. However, the Wal-Mart driver did not reduce his speed and was traveling at an estimated 65 mph at the moment of impact. According to NTSB investigators, the driver’s fatigue prevented him from perceiving the reduced speed limit and from reacting in time to avoid the collision. One investigator stated that “Had the truck driver been traveling at the posted work zone speed limit of 45 mph, it [sic] could have been stopped before the accident.”
Wal-Mart has made confidential settlements with Morgan and with the children of James McNair, who was killed in the accident. Nevertheless, Morgan’s fame has not protected him from the enduring aftereffects of the accident. He is still undergoing rehabilitation and has not been able to perform. This accident highlights the safety risk created by truck driver fatigue. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a collision with an over-the-road truck may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in such cases for an evaluation of the facts of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages from the parties who are at fault.
Source: KTICradio, “NTSB: Walmart Driver Was Awake More Than 28 Hours Before Tracy Morgan Crash,” by ABC News Radio, Aug. 11, 2015