National News

Morgan recovering after surgery following crash

By Bruce Shipkowski, The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan is recovering but is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks after having surgery on a broken leg suffered in a chain-reaction crash that left two others critically injured and a fellow comic dead.

The 45-year-old former "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" cast member remained in critical condition early Monday. Morgan's spokesman, Lewis Kay, said he was "more responsive" Sunday after having surgery for a broken leg.

Kay said Morgan also suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs and is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks. He said Morgan's family is "tremendously overwhelmed and appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from his fans."

A Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. Authorities said 35-year-old Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead early Saturday on the New Jersey Turnpike and swerved at the last minute to avoid a crash. Instead, his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan's chauffeured Mercedes limo bus, killing comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, authorities said.

Also critically injured were Morgan's assistant, Jeffrey Millea, 36, of Connecticut, and comedian Ardie Fuqua Jr., 43, of New Jersey. They remained in critical condition Sunday evening, said officials at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick. Another passenger, comic Harris Stanton, was treated and released.

Tyrone Gale, who was driving the limo bus, told ABC News that he was disoriented after the vehicle flipped over and could hear Morgan yelling for help.

"I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help," Gale said. "I climbed up on the body of the limo bus ... but I couldn't reach them."

Morgan, a New York City native, was returning from a standup performance at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware when the crash occurred. In all, six vehicles were involved in the pileup, but no one from the other cars was injured.

McNair, 62, of Peekskill, New York, was a close friend and mentor to Morgan, his ex-wife Sabina Morgan told the New York Daily News. "He was one of the first comedians that took Tracy under his wing," she said.

Royale Watkins, a Los Angeles-based comedian who said he had performed in New York clubs with Morgan and McNair, described McNair as having a big personality.

"There may be guys like Tracy who get the fame and notoriety, but you have people like Jimmy Mack who have kind of energized and fueled cats like Tracy and kept them going on the road," Watkins said.

Roper, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in to state police. He was released on $50,000 bail Saturday night and has been placed on administrative leave, Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said Sunday. A court appearance for Roper is expected sometime Monday.

Wal-Mart President Bill Simon said in a statement that the company "will take full responsibility" if authorities determine its truck caused the accident.

___

Associated Press writers Bob Lentz and Josh Cornfield in Philadelphia, Marcela Isaza in Los Angeles and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.

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