NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured Saturday after a tractor-trailer rammed into his chauffeured limousine bus, setting off a chain-reaction crash that left a fellow comedian dead and two others seriously hurt, authorities said.
A truck driver from Georgia was charged with death by auto in the crash that killed a man described as a mentor to the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” cast member as the group traveled home from a standup comedy show in Delaware, officials said.
James McNair, 62, of Peekskill, New York, who performed as Jimmy Mack, died after the Mercedes limo bus carrying seven people overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury Township at about 1 a.m., state police Sgt. 1st Class Greg Williams said.
Morgan, 45, and Jeffrey Millea, 36, of Shelton, Connecticut, were flown from the accident scene to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, where they were in critical condition, hospital spokesman Peter Haigney said.
Morgan remained in the intensive care unit at the hospital Saturday night and spokesman Lewis Kay said that his family was with him and he was “receiving excellent care.”
A fourth passenger, comedian Ardie Fuqua Jr., was also in critical condition, while a fifth passenger, comic Harris Stanton, was treated and released, Haigney said. Two others in the limo were unhurt, including the driver.
Middlesex County prosecutors said 35-year-old Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, also faces four counts of assault by auto. His bail was set at $50,000, and he was expected to turn himself in later Saturday. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Williams said the tractor-trailer driver apparently failed to notice slow for traffic ahead and swerved at the last minute to avoid a crash. But it smashed into the back of the limo, prompting a chain-reaction crash with a second tractor-trailer, an SUV and two cars.
Morgan, a New York City native, joined “SNL” in 1996 and left to star in “The Tracy Morgan Show” in 2003. That show lasted just one season. In 2006, Morgan found a long-running role on NBC’s hit show “30 Rock,” which was created by “SNL” co-star Tina Fey. He received an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor for “30 Rock” in 2009.