Was Wal-Mart trucker asleep at the wheel?

Posted: June 13, 2014

WHAT'S a long commute to work?

A half hour? An hour? Any period of time on I-95 or the Schuylkill Expressway?

NTSB accident investigators are looking into what role the commute of Kevin Roper - the driver charged in the accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan - played in the fatal crash on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Wal-Mart driver Roper, who pleaded not guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges yesterday, lived in Georgia.

His job was based in Delaware.

So said NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.

A criminal complaint alleges that Roper hadn't slept for more than 24 hours before the accident when he allegedly swerved to avoid slowed traffic on the turnpike and plowed into Morgan's limo on Saturday morning.

Wal-Mart has not explained what Roper's driving route was. The company has said that it believes he was in compliance with federal safety regulations.

Roper's bail was kept at $50,000. Roper and his lawyer, David Glassman, refused to answer reporters' questions after the hearing about whether Roper was the author of tweets from a Twitter account bearing his name and featuring his picture and calling reports of his not having slept for 24 hours before the accident "complete BS!"

A conviction on a death by auto charge carries a five-to-10-year prison sentence. Each assault by auto charge is punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

Morgan suffered a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs. His friend and fellow comedian James McNair was killed, and two other passengers were seriously injured. Another passenger was treated and released from the hospital on Saturday. The limo driver and one other passenger weren't injured.

Morgan had surgery for his broken leg and remained in critical but stable condition.

TATTBITS

* Look for Grumpy Cat on Lifetime to herald in the worst Christmas ever.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the YouTube sensation with the wobbly walk, big blue eyes and frowny face will play a chronically overlooked pet-store cat. The twist, according to the cable network, is the 12-year-old girl who can communicate with her.

That's a twist?

The live-action movie is aptly named "Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever," and the human to voice the four-legged star has not yet been cast. It will shoot this summer.

In real life, Grumpy is named Tardar Sauce and lives in Arizona.

Morrissey has canceled the rest of his U.S. tour to recover from a respiratory infection that has worsened.

Morrissey kicked off his tour last month, playing several dates before he got sick in Miami. He was expected to wrap up the tour on June 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The statement says that the former Smiths frontman thanks his fans "for their compassion, understanding and well-wishes."

He will release a new album next month.

Barbra Streisand was on Capitol Hill yesterday appealing to lawmakers for more funding and research devoted to heart disease in women.

In a statement, Streisand said that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, yet most research is focused on men.

She said, "We cannot let another year pass when another 400,000 of our fellow women die because these disparities aren't addressed."

In 2012, Streisand founded the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute to help research the disease that kills more women than all cancers combined.

Streisand crossed the aisle to meet with Republican Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, Democratic U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, of Illinois, and both women's caucuses.

Placido Domingo ("The One Tenor") will sing before a World Cup final for the sixth time, announcing yesterday that he will perform at Rio de Janeiro's HSBC Arena on July 11.

The concert will take place on the eve of the final at Maracana Stadium. The show also is scheduled to include soprano Ana Maria Martinez, conductor Eugene Kohn and the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira and Curtis Institute-taught pianist Lang Lang.

Domingo has attended every World Cup since 1974 and sang the 1982 theme song in Spain, "El Mundial."

He joined Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras at the Rome's Baths of Caracalla in 1990 to form The Three Tenors. They returned in 1994 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, in 1998 at Paris' Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower, and in 2002 at Japan's Yokohama Arena.

* Celebrity cook Paula Deen is going digital.

Paula Deen Ventures, a new company formed to help launch a comeback for Deen, yesterday announced plans for the creation of the Paula Deen Network. The paid-subscription-based network is set to launch in September and will be accessible by computer, smartphone or tablet.

The network will feature daily food programming in an unscripted format, because if there's one thing you want Paula Deen to be, it's unscripted.

Dave Chappelle appeared on "The Late Show With David Letterman" on Tuesday night, his first late-night appearance in more than six years. Chappelle has kept a mostly low-profile since abruptly exiting "Chappelle's Show" nearly a decade ago.

"Technically, I never quit," Chappelle said of his show. "I'm seven years late for work."

Uh, Dave, the show ended in 2005. You were seven years late two years ago.

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.


Phone: 215-854-5678

On Twitter: @DNTattle

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