Tracy Morgan is still listed in critical condition from a crash early Saturday morning that killed fellow comic James 'Jimmy Mack' McNair. 35-year-old Kevin Roper of Jonesboro, Georgia has been charged with death by auto in connection with the crash as well as with four counts of assault by auto. His bail has been set at $50,000. Tracy Morgan was returning from a performance at a stand up comedy show in Delaware when Roper slammed into his limo bus on the New Jersey Turnpike. McNair was confirmed dead at the scene. Morgan and one other passenger were airlifted to the hospital while two others were taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance. The limo driver and his assistant were unharmed.
New Jersey State Police Sgt. 1st Class Greg Williams said Kevin Roper apparently failed to notice slow traffic ahead of him around 1:00 A.M. on Saturday. He swerved at the last minute in an attempt to avoid a crash but crashed into the limo instead, causing it to crash into a second tractor trailer and causing a chain reaction accident involving six vehicles.
James McNair wasn't only a fellow comic, but was also one of Tracy Morgan's writers and a dear friend, too--as well as as friend of Morgan's ex-wife Sabina Morgan.
"He was one of the first comedians that took Tracy under his wing," Sabina Morgan said. "They were very close."
Royale Watkins is a Los Angeles based comedian who had appeared with both Tracy Morgan and James McNair.
"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.
Sorry to hear of James Jimmy Mack McNair killed in crash. Thoughts & prayers for @realtracymorgan & fellow passengers.
— Fred Willard (@Fred_Willard) June 7, 2014
Praying for Tracy Morgan, James McNair, the other passengers on that limo bus & their family, friends & fans. Eerily familiar accident…
— Gloria Estefan (@GloriaEstefan) June 7, 2014
Tracy Morgan began working his comedy routines on the streets in Brooklyn where he grew up fatherless. He helped support his family's welfare income by making others laugh. He referred to his gift of comedy as a "defense mechanism" several years back. His tough childhood and teen years are often rehashed with a humorous slant during his routines.
Although Morgan has battled alcoholism in recent years he was in good health prior to the car crash that killed his friend. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2010 that prevented him from daily dialysis treatments.
Hopefully Sunday's news will bring positive updates on Tracy Morgan's condition, as well as the condition of those injured in the crash along with him. James McNair's family no doubt needs everyone's prayers.
Kevin Roper is likely getting very little sleep as of Saturday night. Not only does he face serious legal ramifications, he will forever know he was responsible for taking James McNair's life.
Image via Wikimedia Commons