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Truck driver in Tracy Morgan 'drowsy driving' crash due in court

By Victoria Cavaliere

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Georgia truck driver accused of causing a fatal car crash on a New Jersey highway that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan was due in court on Wednesday to face charges of vehicular homicide while driving with too little sleep.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc delivery driver Kevin Roper, 35, was scheduled to be arraigned in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on charges of death by auto and injury by auto while operating his tractor trailer without having slept "in excess of 24 hours," according to prosecutors.

It is unclear how Roper, who is free on $50,000 bail, intends to plead in a case that has refocused attention on required rest for drivers of commercial vehicles and the dangers of so-called "drowsy driving."

Roper is accused of failing to see traffic slowing in front of him on the New Jersey Turnpike and slamming into the back of a limousine van carrying Morgan, best known for roles on "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night Live," and several of his associates.

The chain reaction crash early on Saturday involved a total of six vehicles, and left a passenger in the limo van, comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, dead.

Morgan and two other van passengers were critically injured and remain hospitalized in New Jersey. A fourth limo passenger was injured less severely.

Morgan's spokesman, Lewis Kay, said on Tuesday the 45-year-old entertainer "remains in critical but stable condition," and was making a slow recovery from injuries including a broken leg, nose and ribs.

Wal-Mart has promised to cooperate in the state and federal investigation into the crash and said its drivers are among the safest on the road.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Scott Malone and Sandra Maler)

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