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Driver charged in crash on New Jersey Turnpike that hospitalizes actor Tracy Morgan

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A truck driver has been charged in a fatal accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that left comedian Tracy Morgan hospitalized in critical condition and seriously injured two other people.

Authorities said the man’s tractor-trailer rammed into Morgan’s limousine bus Saturday as he and a group traveled home from a standup comedy show in Delaware.

Prosecutors said truck driver, 35-year-old Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Ga., was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Comedian James McNair, who performed as Jimmy Mack, was killed in the crash. McNair was described as a mentor to the 45-year-old Morgan the former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” cast member.

Morgan’s spokesman said Morgan was receiving “excellent” hospital care.

Two occupants weren’t injured.

Morgan is in intensive care at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Center in New Brunswick.

Morgan performed comedy standup Friday night at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Delaware.

The 45-year-old 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.

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.

In recent years, he has struggled with alcoholism and been arrested on drunken-driving charges. He had a successful kidney transplant in late 2010.

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