Wal-Mart in Crisis Response Mode After Tracey Morgan Crash

Tracey Morgan
Tracey Morgan

Wal-Mart is definitely not a stranger to public relations problems. From strikes stemming from issues like poor wages and working conditions to allegations of predatory pricing and more, criticism of Wal-Mart warrants its own Wikipedia page.

The events that transpired early on Saturday morning involving a Wal-Mart truck and comedian Tracey Morgan, whose work includes "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night Live," certainly won't help the retailer's embattled image.

Authorities say that the driver of the Wal-Mart truck, Kevin Roper, failed to slow for traffic and swerved, smashing into the back of Morgan's limo and starting a chain-reaction crash involving four more vehicles. Roper has been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto as a result of the crash.

Morgan's friend and fellow comedian, James McNair, was killed in the crash. Morgan and two others who were traveling with him are in critical condition.

After the crash, Wal-Mart did it's best to attempt to limit the damage, with President and CEO Bill Simon issued a statement on Saturday saying that the company "will take full responsibility" if authorities determine its truck caused the accident.

"This is a tragedy and we are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved. We are working quickly to understand what happened and are cooperating fully with law enforcement to aid their investigation," Simon said in the statement. "The facts are continuing to unfold. If it’s determined that our truck caused the accident, Wal-Mart will take full responsibility."

It could get worse before it gets better for Wal-Mart. This morning, the New York Daily News and others are reporting that a Twitter handle bearing Roper's name had the phrase "move or get hit" in its biography section. Wal-Mart has denied that the account belongs to him. “Mr. Roper has not had and does not have any involvement on social media,” Wal-Mart spokesperson Brook Buchanan said. But others remain convinced that the account is legitimate.

Morgan appears to be responsive but will remain in the hospital for a period of weeks. Roper turned himself into authorities and an investigation is ongoing, the results of which will determine just how bad the latest black eye for Wal-Mart will be.