WASHINGTON, USA - US transportation regulators on Tuesday (August 11) cited multiple factors behind last year's crash in New Jersey involving comedian Tracy Morgan and a Wal-Mart truck that killed one person and injured others, pointing to driver fatigue and unused seat belts.
National Transportation Safety Board officials, in a public hearing to review the June 7, 2014, crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, said the vehicle carrying Morgan had been customised, leaving few ways for people to escape in an emergency.
NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said: "The passengers ... had no available exits until emergency responders removed part of a plywood panel that had been installed between the passenger compartment and the cab."
NOT WEARING SEAT BELTS
The only other way of exiting, a sliding door, "had become inoperable in the crash," Hart said.
The board cited driver fatigue, noting that the Wal-Mart truck driver had been awake for more than 28 hours at the time of the crash and had driven overnight to the company's distribution center before embarking on his delivery.
All of the passengers in the rear compartment of the van carrying Morgan were not wearing seat belts, the board said.
NTSB investigators also recommended that Wal-Mart review available data on its drivers and delivery operations.
The NTSB said its review, which included an animated recreation of the crash shown at the meeting and online, was aimed at discussing ways to improve highway safety.
Morgan, who suffered a serious head injury and broken bones and was left in a coma, and the family of his friend who died in the crash, comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, have settled with Wal-Mart, although terms have not been made public.
Morgan, in June 2015, said he was still recovering from the accident but planned to return to comedy soon.