Truck driver from Morgan crash pleads not guilty

Kevin Roper was charged for vehicular manslaughter and assault by auto.

FILE: Kevin Roper was charged for vehicular manslaughter and assault by auto. Picture: AFP.

NEW YORK - A Georgia truck driver pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of vehicular manslaughter and assault by auto in connection with a six-car pileup on a New Jersey highway that left actor Tracy Morgan critically injured.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. delivery driver Kevin Roper, 35, was arraigned in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on charges he had not slept "in excess of 24 hours" when he triggered the fatal crash.

Roper, dressed in a white shirt and dark pants, said little during the brief court hearing, but answered "yes" when the judge asked if he understood the charges.

His attorney David Glassman entered the not guilty pleas.

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 hospitalised 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.

Roper remains free on $50,000 bail. The judge did not announce his next court date.