Federal transportation officials on Tuesday said a Walmart truck driver’s fatigue was the primary cause of a crash last year that killed comedian James McNair and critically injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators released their findings from the June 2014 crash at a public hearing in Washington.
The truck driver, Kevin Roper, had been awake for more than 28 hours and had driven 800 miles overnight from his home in Georgia to a Walmart distribution center in Delaware, where he began his delivery.
Investigators said his fatigue made him “slow to react,” according to a report by The New York Times. Roper did not apply the brakes until he was 200 feet from the limousine.
Officials also said the limousine had been modified, leaving passengers with no available escape route until emergency responders cut out part of a plywood panel that had been installed between the passenger compartment and the cab, The Times reported.
Limousines commonly are modified from their original manufactured condition, which can make them unsafe.
In addition to McNair’s death, Morgan suffered a severe brain injury from the crash and eight other people were injured when the Walmart truck – traveling 65 miles per hour in a 45 m.p.h. zone – rear-ended the limousine.
Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of trucking accidents that result in nearly 4,000 deaths annually. Last month the Senate passed a bill that exempts some truck drivers from regulations that limit the number of hours they can work.