Wesley “Wes” Tucker was driving his tractor-trailer on I-95 from his home in Walterboro, S.C., to his final stop in Rockledge, Fla. As he was approaching the Little Cedar Creek Bridge in Jacksonville, he pulled into the left lane to pass a slower-moving garbage truck. At the same time, a street sweeper was cleaning the Little Cedar Creek Bridge deck as a subcontractor for one of the nation’s largest road maintenance contractors, with a $25 million contract with the Florida Department of Transportation to perform these services.
The sweeping operation required that a “blocker” truck be equipped with flashing warning lights and arrowboard, and be positioned to follow behind the sweeper vehicle to warn oncoming cars of the operation and prevent accidents. A few moments after Wes passed to the left of the garbage truck he hit the back of the slow-moving street sweeper truck. Wes was airlifted to Shands Hospital; his family drove past the accident scene and arrived at the hospital just before he died.
Law enforcement performed a traffic homicide investigation that provided no information that explained how the accident happened.
Terrell • Hogan president, Wayne Hogan and attorney Bruce Anderson analyzed the case and decided it should be pursued even though Florida law presumes a rear-ending driver to be at fault. Something just didn’t seem right. Wes was a professional driver with a good safety record. So Bruce investigated and interviewed the former employees of the street-sweeping corporation who were driving the street sweep and blocker dump truck involved in the accident. The real facts started to come out. They admitted to Bruce that several fatal errors were made on the Little Cedar Creek Bridge, causing the accident that killed Wes.
Bruce located another truck driver who observed the accident in his driver’s side door mirror, and learned that this truck driver had passed the blocker truck in the right lane. He told Bruce that the blocker truck’s lights were not very bright and he did not see it until he was within a short distance of passing it. This trucker also recalled the weather conditions as being “misty” to the point that he used intermittent windshield wipers.
The defense argued comparative negligence, but Terrell • Hogan retained experts to confirm that the street sweeper and blocker truck drivers performed their jobs improperly and that the position of the dump truck did not leave Wes with time to perceive it and avoid the accident. A $500,000 settlement allows Wes to provide for his beloved wife and the grandchildren he was supporting when he died in this tragic and unnecessary accident.