YONKERS - Friends and family are remembering the passenger killed in a six-car pileup on the New Jersey Turnpike that sent actor Tracy Morgan to the hospital with critical injuries.
Peekskill comedian Jimmy McNair, 63, who went by the stage name "Uncle Jimmy Mack," is best remembered for making others laugh during tough times. His family says he and Morgan were like brothers, and have been friends for more than 20 years.
McNair was killed when the limo-bus he was riding in with Morgan and several others overturned at around 1 a.m. Saturday on the New Jersey Turnpike. Two tractor-trailers and an SUV were also involved in the crash. Morgan is in critical condition at a New Brunswick hospital.
McNair, Morgan and other comedians in the limo bus had just wrapped up a comedy show in Delaware, and were being driven home before the crash.
McNair had stints on "Saturday Night Live" and the BET network. He is survived by his two children, 18-year-old Denita McNair and 25-year-old Jamel McNair, and their mother Deneen. His daughter, Denita, is graduating from Peekskill High School.
The family says they'll be using memories of his positivity and bubbly personality as a source of strength during this difficult time.
Sgt. 1st Class Greg Williams said the tractor-trailer driver, Kevin Roper, apparently failed to notice slow traffic ahead and swerved at the last minute in a vain attempt to avoid a crash. Middlesex County prosecutors say 35-year-old Roper has been charged with death by auto in connection to the crash.
Roper also faces four counts of assault by auto stemming from the crash. His bail was set at $50,000.
Based on what police have said, a Walmart tractor-trailer was involved in the accident. The company issued a statement saying it will take full responsibility if authorities determine the company truck caused the accident.