It appears that 35-year-old Kevin Roper—the Walmart truck driver in a crash which killed one and injured several others—was, incredibly, awake for over 24 hours before the accident. Roper is charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto in the New Jersey Turnpike calamity.
“It is our belief that Mr. Roper was operating within the federal hours of service regulations,” stated Brooke Buchanan of Walmart. The retail giant’s trucking regulations follow federal guidelines limiting drivers to 11 hours of operation within a 14-hour period, followed by 10 hours of rest.
By this point it is well known that one of the crash victims was comedian Tracy Morgan, star of “Saturday Night Live,” and Emmy-nominated for his role on the sitcom “30 Rock.” Morgan was seriously injured, suffering broken ribs, nose and leg, but the crash killed Morgan’s fellow passenger, comedian Jimmy Mack. Comedians Ardie Fuqua and Harris Stanton were also injured, as was a man named Jeffrey Millea.
Officials say the wreck occurred at about 1 a.m. “The driver of the tractor-trailer failed to observe slow-moving traffic ahead,” police said. “At the last minute, he swerved to try and avoid the limo-bus, but struck it from behind, forcing the limo to rotate and overturn.” Four other vehicles were involved in the accident, but no one else was injured. Police do not believe alcohol was involved.
“This is a tragedy, and we are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved,” Bill Simon, Walmart’s U.S. president and CEO, told the media. It remains to be seen if Walmart’s profound sorrow is for the tragedy itself, or the fact that the corporate behemoth was dragged into the mess.
While the driver is being criminally charged, that is an entirely separate issue than a civil case for liability. Walmart can expect to face charges of its own, which is as it should be–either Walmart pushed Roper to ignore the rules, or he ignored them on his own and Walmart failed to notice. Either way, this is unacceptable. Every driver has a responsibility to consider the safety of themselves and others when they get behind the wheel. Driving fatigued creates a dangerous situation for everyone, and can have tragic consequences.
One driver’s blatant disregard for the safety of others cannot stand. If you have been injured by a careless driver, seek medical attention and then call an experienced attorney at our firm so we can get you the most compensation for your injuries.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.
Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia Injury Attorneys