Truck driver in Tracy Morgan crash accepts plea deal

Kevin Roper, the truck driver who rear-ended Tracy Morgan's limo in 2014, severely injuring Morgan and killing his friend, accepted a plea deal Tuesday on 10 charges connected to the crash. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Nov. 29 (UPI) — The truck driver charged in the 2014 New Jersey Turnpike crash that put comedian Tracy Morgan in a coma for two weeks and killed his friend accepted a plea deal Tuesday, avoiding trial on 10 charges connected with the crash.

Kevin Roper, the Walmart truck driver who rear-ended Morgan’s limo, killing James McNair and severely injuring Morgan, accepted a deal Tuesday to have the charges dismissed if he completes 300 hours of community service as part of a pre-trial program.

“The fortunate thing about this is he can go forward with his life,” Roper’s defense attorney David Glassman told reporters. “If he completes the program, the charges will be extinguished and he won’t have a criminal record.”

Roper had been awake for more than 28 hours before slamming into the back of the limo, and was driving 20 miles over the posted 45 mile-per-hour speed limit. Had he been doing the limit, Roper could likely have stopped before the crash, federal investigators said last year.

Roper was charged last December with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and eight counts of aggravated assault by a grand jury for the crash, which resulted in the death of McNair, a comedian and one of Morgan’s writers, put Morgan into a coma for two weeks and caused injuries requiring a year of recovery and caused injuries to other passengers in the car.

Prosecutors in the case offered Roper the deal because he is a first-time offender, requiring him to acknowledge that he is responsible for a criminal act and complete 300 hours of community service.

Morgan, who has since returned to television and mounted a stand-up tour, told Conan O’Brien on Nov. 3 he forgave Roper and that he’s “not even mad at him no more.”

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