Update: GLV has learned that we have reported that Ardie Fuqua passed away from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in which one other person was killed, and actor Tracy Morgan was seriously injured. In fact, Mr. Fuqua is alive, and recovering from his injuries. GLV regrets this error, but we have not updated the original article because we do not wish to conceal errors when they occur. We regret any concerns that individuals personally affected by the error may have experienced. Please contact [email protected] for further information or to make additional comments.
Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, while still in recovery, was recently released from a New Jersey hospital after a terrible multi-vehicle accident, a highly publicized impact that resulted in two deaths earlier this month. Now in a rehabilitative facility to continue his recovery, Mr. Morgan is continuing to receive an outpouring of affection and encouragement from family, friends, and cable network company FX. In the midst of his rehabilitation, FX is standing behind the comedian, stating that his untitled show “will be waiting” for the actor when he has made a full recovery and is ready to go back to work. The support the 30 Rock star is receiving after the accident is heartwarming, revealing a snapshot as to what kind of impact Morgan has on America’s hearts and high spirits.
It is important, however, to remember the victims of that same accident, and the loved ones they left behind. James McNair, 63, a comedy writer and close friend of Morgan’s, died at the scene of the grizzly impact. Known as “Uncle Jimmy Mack,” McNair hosted his own local show, the Uncle Jimmy Mack Amateur Hour. Veteran comedian Ardie Fuqua, 43, was injured in the accident, passing away while in critical condition at a local New Jersey hospital. In 2012, Fuqua’s son died in a car accident, and the comedian, who was well-known for reaching out to his fans, used to make himself available to other loved ones of crash victims, often using social media outlets or meeting in person after his shows.
As fellow comedians, family, and network executives rally to support the crash victims, the confusing question still hangs in the air: why had the driver, who was responsible for the June 7 crash, not slept in over 24 hours? As other questions surrounding Morgan’s accident are starting to shed light on what lead up to the highly publicized impact on the New Jersey Turnpike, many are pointing towards the concept of “drowsy driving,” and just how deadly the practice can be. According to the National Sleep Foundation, commercial drivers “are especially susceptible” to driving while sleep-deprived. In a 1996 study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, data from 80 commercial truckers collected revealed that drivers only averaged a meager five hours of sleep a night. While the study may be nearly two decades old, its disconcerting findings have influenced charters for the future of highway driving safety.
It is not a well-kept secret that truckers are often sleep-deprived while on the road, and in 2013 a legislation ruling dictated that commercial drivers adhere to specific work-hour guidelines, determining when and how often they should take breaks, and cutting the overall number of hours a driver could work. Before the legislation passed, commercial truckers worked up to 82 hours per week; this was dropped to 70, still an impressively high number for the highway drivers.
Unfortunately, not everyone is in favor of these new regulations; Senator Susan Collins (Maine, Rep.) is fighting the ruling, promoting an amendment to freeze the new decision until further studies surrounding commercial truckers and “drowsy driving” provide more conclusive evidence on these fatigue-related accidents. Trucking executives supportive of this amendment also argue that drivers should be able to follow their own schedule, allowing for maximum flexibility. If drivers can only be on the road during specific times of the day, they argue, accidents are more likely to occur, due to heavier traffic congestion.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety’s Vice President Henry Jasny weighed in on the debate, offering that repealing the legislation would mean more truckers would be on the roads for longer hours, congestion or no, and were more likely experience higher levels of fatigue. In light of the June 7 impact, Jasny noted that if it were not for the fact that the well-known funnyman Morgan was involved in the accident, there was a high likelihood that the impact would have gone unnoticed. Under-reporting of collisions is an unfortunate occurrence, leading to a misrepresentation in the number of fatigue-related crashes each year.
By Hayden Freed