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NTSB: Truck Driver Who Hit Tracy Morgan's Limousine Was Speeding

Truck driver Kevin Roper attends his first appearance at the Middlesex County Courthouse, last Wednesday. Roper pleaded not guilty in the fatal New Jersey Turnpike crash that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan.
John O'Boyle

The driver of a semitrailer that hit a limousine carrying comedian Tracy Morgan, seriously injuring him and killing a fellow passenger, was speeding moments before the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board says in a preliminary report.

NTSB says Wal-Mart driver Kevin Roper was going 65 mph in a 45 mph construction zone just before the June 7 crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. The crash killed 62-year-old James McNair of Peekskill, N.Y.

The NTSB says:

"The right and center lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike were closed in the vicinity of this construction zone. About 0.9 mile south of the crash location, an advance warning sign notified northbound traffic of the lane closure ahead. About 0.4 mile south of the crash location, speed limit signs were posted that reduced the speed from 55 mph to 45 mph.

"The Peterbilt truck-tractor was equipped with an electronically controlled Cummins ISX engine. The engine control module (ECM) could record vehicle speed, engine rpm, brake circuit status, throttle percentage, and other associated data in a sudden deceleration event. NTSB investigators imaged the ECM on June 11, 2014. A preliminary review of the data showed that the Peterbilt combination vehicle was traveling at 65 mph for the 60 seconds preceding the collision with the Mercedes-Benz limo van. NTSB investigators are correlating these data with the physical evidence."

The Associated Press writes:

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. trucks are equipped with devices that limit the vehicles' speed to 65 mph, a spokeswoman said, so Roper was going at the top speed possible.

"Drivers are required to follow the posted speed limit under Wal-Mart policy, spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said Thursday. 'Of course we expect our drivers to comply with the laws, whether it's a speed limit, or [something else],' she said.

"She otherwise declined to comment on the report, citing the ongoing investigation."

Morgan is hospitalized in fair condition.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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