Walmart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon issued a statement after a Walmart tractor-trailer was involved in the crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed one and injured four, including actor and comedian Tracy Morgan.
“We’re praying for the family and friends of the passenger who lost his life in the terrible accident in New Jersey. Our hearts go out to everyone involved and we hope those who were injured get the care that they need and make a full recovery. This is a tragedy and we are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved. We are working quickly to understand what happened and are cooperating fully with law enforcement to aid their investigation. The facts are continuing to unfold. If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility. Safety is our absolute highest priority, but that is no comfort whatsoever to the families and friends who are suffering today. We offer them our deepest condolences. We can’t change what happened, but we will do what’s right for the family of the victim and the survivors in the days and weeks ahead.”
Walmart confirmed that the tractor-trailer driver, 35-year-old Kevin Roper does work for Walmart.
@NanRoNews Yes, the driver is a Walmart associate.
— Walmart Newsroom (@WalmartNewsroom) June 8, 2014
New Jersey State Police said Roper "failed to observe" a change in traffic flow. Roper reportedly changed lanes to avoid Morgan's limousine too late and clipped it, causing Morgan's tour bus to spin and eventual flip. Comedian James McNair, 62, was killed in the accident. According to ABC News, police said Roper may have "dozed" off prior to the accident. The traffic accident has led to new discussion about driver safety, including the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road.
Last week, lawmakers were deciding on whether or not to suspend a recently imposed regulation that limits the amount of hours long-haul truckers could drive per week without an "extended break," reports Bloomberg. The regulation was put in place in July 2013 to ensure truck drivers had a chance to catch ample amounts of sleep during the workweek. Suspending the regulation would do away with its 70-hour per week cap and reinstate the 82-hour weekly schedule that was in place before.
Roper is charged with one count of death by automobile and four counts of assault. Roper turned himself in and was transported to Middlesex County Jail in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was released on $50,000 bond.
Tyrone Gale, the limo bus driver, issued a statement on Facebook describing the accident. According to the post, "I can only say feeling helpless on the highway was very hard to take. There was nothing I could do but scream at times. I am truly sad for the loss of James McNair. This is not something I will be able to forget in my lifetime. I wont pretend like I knew them deeply, but I will say I truly know when I'm around good people and these men are."