MERCER COUNTY, NJ – Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was in critical condition after a tractor-trailer struck the limo bus he was riding in early Saturday on the New Jersey Turnpike, said his publicist and state police.
Morgan’s condition was not expected to change Saturday, publicist Lewis Kay said. “His family is now with him and he is receiving excellent care.”
Morgan, 45, was a regular on “Saturday Night Live” for seven years and received an Emmy nomination for his role on “30 Rock,” in which he played Tracy Jordan, an exaggerated version of himself.
The New York City native made his reputation with over-the-top characters and impressions of celebrities such as Mike Tyson and Oprah Winfrey.
The wreck happened on the turnpike in Mercer County, said Sgt. Gregory Williams of New Jersey State Police.
“NJSP says the driver of the tractor-trailer failed to observe slow-moving traffic ahead,” Williams said. “At the last minute, he swerved to try and avoid the Mercedes limo bus but struck it from behind, forcing the limo to rotate and overturn.”
A limo passenger, 63-year-old James McNair of Peekshill, New York, was killed and six people besides Morgan were hospitalized with injuries, authorities said.
McNair was a comedian who performed under the name Jimmy Mack, said his sister, Valerie Daniel. “He spoke very highly of Tracy,” she told CNN. “They go way back.”
In addition to the bus, the wreck involved two tractor-trailers and an SUV, Williams said.
Peter Haigney, a spokesman for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, said four patients were being treated there. Three were in critical condition and one was in fair condition.
Williams said he does not believe alcohol played a role in the accident, but that is under investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate “safety issues related to commercial trucking and limousine safety,” said agency spokesman Keith Holloway.
Christopher Thompson, spokesman for limo owner Atlantic Transportation Services, said driver Tyrone Gale, who is part owner of the company, was shaken up.
“Although the investigation is still pending, we concur with the preliminary reports that the accident was caused by another vehicle traveling behind the Atlantic limo bus and we are grateful that our drivers did not sustain life-threatening injuries,” Thompson said.
Morgan performed a comedy tour act Friday night at the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Delaware, the venue said.
Thompson said he thought the limo bus was heading to drop Morgan off in New Jersey.
The actor received messages of support and concern on Twitter.
“Wishing a speedy recovery to our friend @RealTracyMorgan,” tweeted SNL Weekend Update.
“Shocked to wake up and read that @RealTracyMorgan is injured. Love to Tracy and wishing him strength,” said former SNL cast member Rachel Dratch.
“My thoughts are with Tracy Morgan and his family. I hope he pulls through this soon and gets back to making us laugh!” said Joan Rivers.
“Saying a prayer for @RealTracyMorgan,” said actor-director Jon Favreau.
“Come on @RealTracyMorgan pull through this buddy,” tweeted actor Ike Barinholtz of “The Mindy Project.”