Truck driver from Georgia charged in crash that killed comedian, injured comic Tracy Morgan

Comedian Tracy Morgan from the television series "30 Rock" arrives at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington in this May 1, 2010 file photo.

Comedian Tracy Morgan from the television series "30 Rock" arrives at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington in this May 1, 2010 file photo.

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey — A truck driver from Georgia was charged on Saturday with causing a crash between his semi-trailer and a van that killed a comedian and critically injured comic actor Tracy Morgan, prosecutors said.

Kevin Roper, 35, who CNN identified as a resident of Jonesboro, was charged with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said.

Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, best known for his roles on "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock," was badly injured when his limo bus overturned in a multi-vehicle crash that killed another comic in New Jersey early on Saturday.

Morgan, 45, was in critical condition in an intensive care unit at a hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, police and his spokesman said.

The comedian James McNair, also known as Jimmy Mack, was killed in the crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, police said. McNair, who was 63 and lived in Peekskill, New York, was riding in the limo bus with Morgan.

Morgan's assistant Jeff Millea and the comedians Ardie Fuqua and Harris Stanton also were injured, along with three other people, police said.

Morgan was part of a stand-up comedy "Turn it Funny" tour and had performed at a Dover, Delaware, casino on Friday night.

The crash occurred around 1 a.m. local time on Saturday near Cranbury Township when a tractor-trailer crashed into the back of Morgan's limo bus, New Jersey State Police spokesman Gregory Williams said, based on findings of a preliminary investigation.

After the collision, involving another tractor-trailer, a sports utility vehicle and two other cars, the limo bus was on its side, he said.

Morgan, along with others who suffered injuries, were taken by helicopter to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Center in New Brunswick, Williams said.

Morgan's spokesman said he would remain there on Saturday.

"His family is now with him and he is receiving excellent care," spokesman Lewis Kay said in a statement. "We don't anticipate much of a change in his condition today."

One of the best-known black comedians in the United States, Morgan found humor in the often fraught realm of race relations.

Several of his celebrity friends, including comedians George Lopez and Andy Richter and the director Jon Favreau, posted messages of support on Twitter.

"Stay strong Tracy Morgan," the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons wrote. "We love you."

Police were still investigating the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board was also sending investigators.


A few days before his Friday show at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, a message was posted on Morgan's Twitter account that read: "Dover downs I'm coming with truck loads of funny Delaware stand up get those tix while u can baby!!!!!"

Following that show, Morgan had been due to appear on Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Morgan shot to fame with roles on "Saturday Night Live" that often poked fun at racial prejudices. One of his best known characters was Uncle Jemima pitching "pure mash liquor" - a sendup of the Aunt Jemima character's maple syrup commercial.

The New York City native spent seven years at SNL before leaving the cast in 2003. He went on to star in the sitcom "30 Rock" for seven seasons alongside Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Morgan played an unhinged, reckless comedian called Tracy Jordan in a network television satire that caricatured his SNL days.

"30 Rock" also skewered Morgan's sometimes inflammatory stand-up routine. After reportedly joking during a performance in 2011 that he would stab his own son to death if he spoke in a "gay voice," Morgan publicly apologized.

He has three sons with his first wife, Sabina Morgan, and is now engaged to Megan Wollover, with whom he had a daughter in 2013. Morgan, a diabetic, had a kidney transplant in 2010.

Peter Haigney, a spokesman at the hospital where Morgan was admitted, said a total of four crash victims were being treated, three of them in critical condition. He gave no other details.