DeFuniak Springs, FL — A local man was killed on Sunday afternoon over the weekend during an accident on U.S. Highway 331 with an 18-wheeler truck. Police have identified the victim as Tony Hayes, 44 years old, who is from Defuniak Springs.

Police told the NWF Daily News that Hayes was headed north along U.S. 331 at about 12:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon (September 15, 2013) when an 18-wheeler truck in front of him pulled out into traffic. Unable to stop in time, Hayes’ SUV crashed into the back of the 18-wheeler and he was killed immediately.

The driver of the truck was identified as 39-year old Damon Wiggs. He allegedly told police at the scene that he had exited from I-10 to get fuel, but upon noticing that there were no stations nearby, tried to cross U.S. 331 to get onto the eastbound ramp for I-10. He claimed that he saw Hayes’ SUV and believed that Hayes was going to stop in time.

Further investigation is underway and it’s not clear if any charges are going to be filed.

Scene of the Accident


This is appalling on a few different levels, but the most frustrating thing is clearly that this accident could have been prevented, but wasn’t due to the negligence of someone else. We can all agree that sometimes accidents happen and they are simply unavoidable. However, when a truck driver makes a conscience choice to pull out into traffic, assuming that oncoming drivers will see him and stop, I can’t think of a more apt, practical definition of the term “negligent.” I hope that the authorities here do a thorough job in their investigation, but in my years of handling trucking accidents, I’ve seen that the trucker actually doesn’t get all of the blame. In some cases, the trucking company who hired the driver will try to shift the liability onto another party. It’s not uncommon to see the trucking company allege that the victim was actually partially at fault for speeding, not paying attention, etc. In the past, my stance has always been that it’s one thing to be a bad truck driver, but it’s another thing entirely to hire and employ a bad truck driver and put him behind the wheel.


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Recent Comments to the Blog

Jason is back to work and is now playing Sled Hockey and wheelchair rugby!! Jason is the strongest and most amazing man! He may nly have 1/2 a leg, but that is ALL he is lacking!! Thanks to prayer and GOD and awsome first responders and Baylor doctors. Jason's wife, Sheila
— Sheila
I'm a former employee. I had brought up this exact scenario and suggested a maintenance procedure that would eliminate the possibility of this type injury. Obviously my warning went unheeded.
— Tophat
I was actually a couple cars back from this wreck, one of the first on the scene, and helped administer CPR on the victims. The truck driver was going way too fast, but it was actually his trailer that swung around and hit the suv, the semi-truck ended in the median.
— Leif Burton
I appreciate how you've commentated on this tragedy--informative, with questions, but not hurtful. I live within 30 mins of this crash site, and I am appalled at the entire situation :(. I can't even begin to understand what could have happened to make this come to fruition, but I will be keeping up with it so I can learn what investigations bring to light about how something awful like this could happen. Rest in peace, Thomas, Carolyn and Carolyn...
— Summer
I am Anthony Siffords daughter. im 13 and i miss my dad i just wanted everyone to know that he is in a better place now and i would to thank everyone for the support. i miss my dad but it was amazing to see how many people had been toughed by my dad god bless thanks for everything...
— Hannah Sifford
I am Rodney Palmer's sister-inlaw. I am amazed and grateful for all the heartfelt wishes and support for our family... It is difficult indeed to put our thoughts into words, but we very much appreciate your kind and helpful words at a time when these things mean so much. Losing someone as special as Rodney has been tough, but knowing the he has touched so many people's lives keeps my sister's strengthens our family.
— Maureen
A lot of people say smack about lawyers, but I want to say that I'm glad there is a way that people who are wronged by corporate neglect can get justice and force change. We are living in a world where corporations and govt care less than ever about common people, and I support your work. I hope I will never need your services.
— Martin Onasis
My friend Michael was the one who got hit by this train. This is the ONLY article I can find on it!! How is that possible? It happened almost 5 days ago! Thank you for actually caring about us "no name" people. I hope when more information comes in you will post it as soon as you can. Thank you again!! God bless you
— Leslie
Tony was the step Grant father and it's been hard for the whole family but we know he is in a better place now. It's nice to know that people are rasing awareness with my grandfathers story. Thanks, family and friends of Tony Wray.
— Mercedes Stanley
Thank you for posting these accident articles on your site. At the company that I work for, e deal with monitoring construction activity and work around trenches and all sorts of construction equipment/vehicles. I sometimes wonder if construction companies have enough safety training to inform employees of how to protect themselves while on the job.
— Erik Hofmann
I'd like to thank you for giving my cousin's death some type of recognition and letting our family know he is not a lost cause. Thank you <3
— Victoria

Responses (3)

  1. Tony was our neighbor & became a very good friend to my 15 yr old son. My son is having a hard time dealing with this great loss. He will be missed greatly! My prayers are with the family.

  2. Tony was our neighbor & became a very good friend to my 15 yr old son. My son is having a hard time with this great loss. He will be missed greatly. My prayers are with the family.

  3. I have known Tony for 20 plus years. When i heard about his death yesterday i was crushed. I know him from when he lived in ohio and I loved him deeply. It is hard to think I will never see him again. He is forever in my thoughts. My prayers are for Tom and the rest of his family.

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