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6/11/2014 9:30:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Wal-Mart Trucker's Commute Becomes Focus in Turnpike Crash

The Wal-Mart trucker charged in the fatal New Jersey crash that injured actor Tracy Morgan had a lengthy commute from his home in Georgia before reporting to work, two people familiar with the probe said.

The time Kevin Roper spent commuting before his shift has become a focus of investigations into the June 7 crash, said the people, who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak. It wasn’t clear in which state Roper began his shift. Police say Roper hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours.

ATA VIEW: Graves on NPR, CNN, in USA TODAY

The investigations are zeroing in on an area that falls outside U.S. safety rules that primarily apply to on-the-job time. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said June 9 that the driver was complying with regulations that limit work-shifts to 14 hours and daily driving for work to 11 hours.

“It is our belief that Mr. Roper was operating within the federal hours-of-service regulations,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in a June 9 statement.

Wal-Mart declined to comment on the driver’s schedule because of the police investigation, Buchanan said last night in an e-mail. Attempts to contact Roper by telephone led to an out-of-service number.

New Jersey State Police referred a media inquiry to James O’Neill, a spokesman for the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office. O’Neill didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail sent after business hours seeking comment.

Roper, 35, who is listed as residing in Jonesboro, Georgia, has been charged with death by auto after driving the Wal-Mart truck “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours,” according to a police complaint.

The U.S. fatigue rules also require at least 10 hours of rest in between work days. A driver must have 34 hours of rest after reaching a limit of 70 hours in any consecutive eight days.

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By Alan Levin and Jeff Plungis
Bloomberg News

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