AFRICANGLOBE – Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was in critical condition Saturday after a tractor-trailer rammed into his chauffeured limousine bus in New Jersey, setting off a chain-reaction crash that left one member of his entourage dead and two others seriously hurt, authorities said.
The former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” cast member was returning from a standup comedy show in Delaware when his Mercedes limo bus carrying seven people overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury Township at about 1 a.m., state police Sgt. 1st Class Greg Williams said.
Doctors do not expect his condition to change Saturday, according to celebrity news website TMZ. Whether that signals hope for improvement remained unclear.
The crash has claimed one life. James McNair, 62, of Peekskill, New York, a passenger in the limo bus, died at the scene of the crash, authorities said.
Morgan, 45, and Jeffrey Millea, 36, of Shelton, Connecticut, were flown from the accident scene to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, where they were in critical condition, hospital spokesman Peter Haigney said.
A fourth passenger, comedian Ardie Fuqua Jr., was also in critical condition, while a fifth passenger, comic Harris Stanton, was treated and released, Haigney said. Two others in the limo were unhurt, including the driver.
Morgan remains in the intensive care unit at the hospital.
“His family is now with him and he is receiving excellent care,” spokesman Lewis Kay said in a statement. “We don’t anticipate much of a change in his condition today but will provide a further update once more information becomes available.”
Williams said the tractor-trailer driver apparently failed to notice slow traffic ahead and swerved at the last minute in a vain attempt to avoid a crash. But it smashed into the back of the limo, prompting a chain-reaction crash with a second tractor-trailer, an SUV and two cars.
Later on Saturday, prosecutors charged a truck driver from Georgia with causing a crash between his semi-trailer and the van.
Kevin Roper, 35, faces charges of one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Morgan performed comedy standup Friday night at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. His scheduled appearance at the Fillmore Charlotte in North Carolina on Saturday night was canceled.
Morgan, a New York City native, joined “SNL” in 1996 and was on the sketch-comedy program for seven years before leaving to star in “The Tracy Morgan Show” in 2003. That show lasted just one season.
In 2006, Morgan found a long-running role on NBC’s hit show “30 Rock,” which was created by “SNL” co-star Tina Fey. He received an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor for “30 Rock” in 2009.
In recent years, he has struggled with alcoholism. He had a successful kidney transplant in late 2010.
Morgan grew up fatherless, one of five siblings, in a blighted section of Brooklyn, where he helped raise and support the family.
He once called his gift for being funny “a defense mechanism” for his miserable circumstances. As a teen, he started doing comedy on the streets to supplement the family’s welfare income.
His tough upbringing informed his humor.
“My aunt was a crackhead,” he told his Brooklyn audience in a recent special aired on Comedy Central.
“I remember one Christmas she bought me a Game Boy. Then she stole it. Then she helped me look for it.”