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Federal investigators present findings on Tracy Morgan crash

It's been over a year since the devastating accident that seriously injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan and several others and killed another comedian, James McNair. The group was traveling home from a Delaware performance when a Walmart tractor-trailer crashed into their limousine van on the New Jersey Turnpike. The van then struck several other vehicles before rolling over.

Over the past year, there has been much discussion of the number of hours the truck driver had been awake and driving prior to the accident. Walmart has already settled civil lawsuits with Morgan and McNair's family. The 35-year-old driver has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges resulting from the accident, including vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

Now the National Transportation Safety Board has released its findings on the crash. The NTSB reported that driver fatigue was indeed a factor in the crash. The Walmart driver had driven 12 hours in his car from his Georgia home to the location where his route began in Delaware before he even got behind the wheel of the truck. He had been driving another 13-plus hours in the truck when the fatal accident occurred. That was a total of "800 miles overnight," according to an NTSB investigator. He had been awake for over 28 hours.

Speed was also a factor, according to the safety agency. The driver was traveling 65 miles per hour in a work zone where the speed limit was 45 mph. The NTSB concluded that had he been traveling at the designated speed limit the truck "could have been stopped before the impact."

The NTSB also faulted some conditions in the limo for the severity of the injuries. The passengers were not wearing seat belts. Walmart had originally placed some blame for the tragedy on these passengers, but later, according to Morgan's attorney, "took full responsibility for the accident." Further, the NTSB reported that the customized van had "no available exits" for passengers to get out. They had to be extricated by emergency responders. Some were trapped for almost 40 minutes.

Those who have seen Morgan interviewed recently have witnessed the devastating toll that a tractor-trailer accident can take physically and emotionally. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and broke multiple bones. While no amount of money can make up for that kind of trauma, it's essential to hold companies legally responsible for the negligent and reckless actions of their drivers.

Source: ABC News, "Walmart Driver Was Awake More Than 28 Hours Before Tracy Morgan Crash: NTSB," Erin Dooley, Aug. 11, 2015

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