UPDATE: "Happy to pass along that Tracy has been upgraded to fair condition, which is a great improvement," announced Tracy Morgan's publicist in a statement on June 16. "His personality is certainly starting to come back as well."
Morgan's assistant, Jeff Millea, who was also injured in the crash, was upgraded to fair condition as well, according to the rep.
You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief across Hollywood and beyond when a spokesperson for Tracy Morgan said Sunday that the comedian had been "more responsive" following a six-car crash Saturday that killed his mentor and left him in critical condition in the ICU. With the 30 Rock star recovering from multiple injuries, several of his intimates who were with him in his limo bus injured, and a Walmart truck driver in the crash already brought up on charges, here's a breakdown of everything you need to know about the accident…
What exactly happened: After performing a comedy show in Dover, Delaware, on Friday night, the limo bus carrying Tracy and several other comedians and friends was rear-ended by a tractor trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike at 1 a.m. Saturday morning. A total of six vehicles were involved, but the passengers in the limo were the only ones injured.
"The driver of the tractor-trailer failed to observe slow-moving traffic ahead," Sgt. Gregory Williams of New Jersey State Police told CNN. "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."
Tracy's condition: The funnyman, 45, was airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Center after the crash and underwent surgery on Sunday for his broken leg. The other injuries he sustained include a broken femur, broken nose, and several broken ribs. "He has been more responsive, which is an incredibly encouraging sign," his publicist Lewis Kay said. "We expect him to remain in the hospital for several weeks." On Monday, his rep shot down a report that he had his leg amputated. "The concern for his well-being has been overwhelming, but [his fiancée] Megan [Wollover] is respectfully asking that the media await official word through these channels before speculating (mostly inaccurately) on his condition, a spokesperson said Monday. "Rumors about amputating his leg are completely fabricated." The same day, it was announced that his condition had been upgraded from critical to critical but stable.
Tracy's publicist sent out another update on Thursday, June 12: "Today was a better day. While Tracy remains in critical, but stable, condition, he continues to show signs of improvement. His medical team remains optimistic that his recovery is progressing. Megan remains by his side and is relaying the countless good wishes and prayers that his family, friends and fans have been sending their way."
Who else was injured: Sadly, James McNair, who is known on the comedy circuit as "Uncle Jimmy Mack," was pronounced dead at the scene of the early morning crash. Tracy's ex-wife, Sabina Morgan, said that McNair, 62, was the Saturday Night Live alum's mentor. "He was one of the first comedians that took Tracy under his wing," she told the New York Daily News. "They were very close." McNair, who lived in Westchester County, New York, worked four to five jobs — from being a caseworker at a homeless shelter to giving out food at a Salvation Army pantry — but would drop everything when Tracy called him, a friend said to the Journal News.
Ardie Fuqua, a 43-year-old veteran stand-up comedian from Jersey City, New Jersey, who opened for Tracy, is also in critical condition. He posted photos from the show and in the limo bus shortly before the crash, writing, "This is what it looks like from the stage to see a standing ovation from 1500 people. Then we traveled back to NYC in style in a luxury Mercedes Sprinter. Road life is a good life! #tracymorgan."
Jeff Millea, who is said to be Tracy's assistant, is also in critical condition. The 36-year-old is from Shelton, Connecticut, and also has been a production assistant on several films, including "Confessions of a Shopaholic," according to IMDB.com. Morgan's publicist gave an update on Millea on Thursday:
"Jeff's wife asked us to pass along that Jeff has also shown much improvement over the past few days. She is very thankful for the love and support she and their family continue to receive."
Another comic in the limo, Harris Stanton, walked away with a broken wrist. Outside his Brooklyn home on Sunday, he told the New York Daily News, "I didn’t get hurt as bad as they did. I was lucky." He added, "It's sad. It's very sad."
Stanton spoke out about the accident again on Tuesday, telling WABC they were in the limo "talking, cracking jokes" and "the next thing I knew there was crunching metal all around me. … I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, I'm in an accident.' I'm trying not to die, it was very traumatic."
He said he was wearing his seat belt, but he wasn't sure who else was. "When [the limo] stopped, Tracy was on top of me and I didn't see anyone else. I was just saying, 'Help me, get me out of here.'" And Morgan wasn't moving. "He was unconscious, he was moaning and groaning, he was breathing. But I was the only one screaming."
The other passengers on the limo bus were the driver and another employee of the limo company. Both were uninjured in the wreck.
What the limo bus driver said: Morgan cried for help following the crash, according to Tyrone Gale, who was the chauffeur of the vehicle.
"I just remember the impact. We didn't know which way was up, which way was down. I don't know if we flipped several times or one time," he told the ABC News. "I climbed around and heard Tracy screaming for help. I climbed up on the body of the limo bus… but I couldn't reach them. I saw the condition of everybody, and I knew it would just make it worse if I tried to pull them up and out of the vehicle."
He also told NBC10 that it was a "great day turned tragic in seconds."
What an eyewitness saw: A woman named Vicktoria witnessed the crash and shared her account with People.com.
"My husband saw the Walmart truck swerving, and he slammed on the brakes. The truck hit the Mercedes, and then it hit the guard rail and another white SUV. It was like a movie in slow motion. The Mercedes spun out of control and then flipped over and came to rest on the driver's side," she said. "It was obvious that the people in the Mercedes were really hurt. ... The windshield was broken. You could see blood everywhere. You could tell it was really bad."
What Tracy's fiancée has said: Megan Wollover has been by Tracy's side as he heals and updated her Facebook followers on his condition Monday. "Thank you so much for the outpour of support following the accident," she wrote. "Your well wishes mean more than you can imagine, and I know that Tracy can feel the love and positive energy. Along with everyone else, I too hope that Jeff and Ardie have full and speedy recoveries. And to Jimmy Mack, you will truly be missed. You have always been someone very special to Tracy and all of us, and the world will not be the same without you. Please continue to keep Tracy and the others in your thoughts and prayers throughout their recovery."
What we know about the truck driver:
Kevin Roper, 35, was behind the wheel of the Walmart truck, which rear-ended Tracy's limo. The Jonesboro, Georgia, native has been charged with one count of vehicular homicide and three counts of injury by auto. According to a criminal complaint filed on Monday, Roper hadn't slept for "in excess of 24 hours" at the time of the crash despite Walmart claiming he was operating "within the federal hours of service regulations." On Wednesday, he appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He did not speak during the arraignment, which took place in Middlesex County. A judge kept his bail at $50,000.
Someone who goes by Kevin Roper on Twitter and claims to be a truck driver for Walmart from Georgia, has posted several comments about the accident on Twitter. However, a Walmart spokeswoman has said that the real Roper "does not have any involvement on social media." When asked about the Twitter account outside court, he did not respond to that question — or any others.
Walmart President and CEO Bill Simon expressed his sympathies to the victims of the crash. "We're praying for the family and friends of the passenger who lost his life in the terrible accident in New Jersey," he said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to everyone involved and we hope those who were injured get the care that they need and make a full recovery. This is a tragedy and we are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved. We are working quickly to understand what happened and are cooperating fully with law enforcement to aid their investigation. The facts are continuing to unfold. If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility."
The status of Morgan's new TV show: Tracy was set to do a sitcom with the creators of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on FXX. That is obviously on hold for now.
"The only thing we are concerned with is the health and recovery of Tracy Morgan and the victims of this tragic accident," read a statement from the show creators and FXX. "We will support Tracy and his family in every way possible throughout his recovery. At the point when Tracy has recovered and decides that he is ready to go back to work, his show will be waiting for him. Right now our thoughts and prayers remain with Tracy, the other victims of the accident and their families."
[This story was originally published June 9, 2014, at 2:14 p.m. PT]