In his first extensive interview in almost a year, actor-comedian Tracy Morgan told host Matt Lauer and NBC's "TODAY" show audience that Wal-Mart has "stepped up to the plate in a tremendous way" in apologizing for causing the accident on the New Jersey Turnpike last June that killed one of Morgan's colleagues and left Morgan in a coma.
Morgan reached an undisclosed settlement with Wal-Mart on May 27 over the crash, and Morgan's attorney, Benedict Morelli, said on the June 1 program that Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon asked to meet with Morgan and Morelli this week. "They want to say they're sorry, he wants to say he's sorry to Tracy directly, and apologize and see that he's OK, and I thought that was a huge gesture," Morelli said.
A Wal-Mart tractor-trailer driven by Kevin Roper struck the rear of the limousine van carrying Morgan and others after a comedy show in Delaware, killing James McNair, 62. Roper pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto.
Police said Roper went at least 24 hours without sleep before the accident, driving from his home in Georgia to a Wal-Mart facility in Delaware. He then made deliveries and pickups in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the National Transportation Safety Board has said. He drove at 65 mph for the 60 seconds before the crash in an area where the speed limit was 45 mph because of construction, NTSB said.
McNair's family earlier had received a settlement from Wal-Mart as well, which Morgan acknowledged.
"The case is settled, but the pain is always gonna be there for Jimmy Mack [McNair] , a close friend of mine, a comrade in comedy," Morgan said. "He was a loving man, he was a warm man, he was a good man, it just hurts me to see that he's gone."
Morgan said he doesn't remember the accident but watches video of the aftermath on YouTube every day to pay respects to McNair.
"Bones heal. But the loss of my friend will never heal. We've known each other a long time. But I'm happy that Wal-Mart stepped up to the plate in a tremendous way. They took full responsibility, and I was really happy that they looked out for Jimmy Mack's family. I know my friend can rest in peace now, because they took responsibility for that. In the beginning there was a misunderstanding, but that got squared away, and they came through in the clutch."
With Morgan and McNair in the limo were Jeffrey Millea, Morgan's personal assistant; and comedian Ardley Fuqua Jr. Millea and Fuqua Jr. suffered serious injuries as well and joined Morgan in the lawsuit.
Morgan, who starred on "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock," said his injuries still are healing and that once they do, he hopes to get back to performing comedy.