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.
— Grossman Law Offices