JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a truck driver killed in a crash in Nassau County late last year is suing the driver of another tractor-trailer who state troopers said caused a seven-vehicle pileup, as well as his company.
The widow of 37-year-old Jamin Middleton (pictured below with wife) blames the crash on distracted driving.
Middleton, of Nahunta, died in the crash Dec. 18 on U.S. Highway 301. The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating.
"I mean, it is unimaginable. When my husband got back in that truck, he did not turn on his phone, he did not text, he did not even answer the phone if I called him," said Amber Middleton.
She said the crash literally wrecked her family's lives. Her husband had two sons, 7 and 17 years old, and they're devastated. They no longer have a dad in their lives, and Amber Middleton thinks it's because someone wasn't paying attention.
Life hasn't been easy for her since her husband died days before Christmas.
"It's unimaginable what you have to go through when you have to do it all yourself," she said.
Troopers said Jamin Middleton was driving on U.S. 301 when he had to stop because of construction. But investigators said a log truck didn't stop, slamming into Middleton's and starting a deadly chain-reaction crash.
According to an FHP report, investigators believe the driver who caused the crash, 53-year-old William Davis, was distracted, careless or negligent.
"For me to know that somebody hit him because they were not paying attention and doing what they needed to do is the hardest part of this whole ordeal," Amber Middleton said. "You know, when it could have been avoided. It was that construction zone. All you had to do was pay attention to what was in front of you."
Amber Middleton filed the lawsuit Tuesday against Davis and his company, Pritchett Trucking out of Lake Butler.
"Clearly, this is a case that involves not just negligence, but gross negligence," attorney Curt Pajcic said.
Pajcic said the lawsuit seeks justice for Jamin Middleton's family and will hopefully prevent tragedies like this from happening again.
"Either texting, being distracted or some other means or perhaps impairment or being too tired," Pajcic said. "We don't know at this time; the investigation is still going. But we will get to the bottom of this."
"This all could have been avoided. My husband could still be coming home at night," Amber Middleton said.
Pritchett Trucking is the same company where a former employee went on a shooting spree in September that ended with three people dead and two injured. The company has not yet commented on the lawsuit. It is not unusual for companies to not comment publicly this soon after a lawsuit has been filed.
Davis was not able to be reached for comment.
He was seriously hurt in the crash and several others had minor injuries.