JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The widow of a longtime law enforcement officer filed a wrongful lawsuit Thursday against Walmart, claiming that Walmart and Swift Transportation are responsible for her husband's death.
Wiley Clark, 72, who retired as an investigator with the Bradford County State Attorney's Office, was struck by a semi truck head-on not far from his home in Hawthorne last June.
Lawyers say the truck driver, who works for Swift Transportation, a trucking company that works with Walmart, was fatigued, and that the truck he was in had maintenance issues.
Wiley Clark's wife, Bonnie Clark, said it was an accident that didn't have to happen.
"He went out to breakfast one Sunday morning, and never came home again," Bonnie Clark said.
Bonnie Clark said she and her husband (pictured) had just retired together and were starting a new chapter in their lives, when an 18-wheeler driven by Wilbur Peterson crossed a median and hit Wiley Clark's vehicle head-on.
"You can't imagine what it's like to have two policemen come to your door and tell you that your husband's dead in a traffic accident and all of sudden you're making funeral plans instead of travel plans," Bonnie Clark said.
Clark's vehicle was mangled, according to the family's attorney, Steve Pajcic, who said that Swift Transportation and Walmart allowed Peterson to operate his rig while he was fatigued.
"He had already driven that truck 65 hours in the preceding week," Pajcic said. "He had been asked to come in and drive for 12 straight nights."
Pajcic also said Peterson's 18-wheeler was going 17 miles over the speed limit. He said the tractor tires were worn down to 1/32nd of an inch, which is in violation of federal standards. Pajcic said he has the driver logs that point to Peterson being overworked. He wants Swift Transportation, Walmart and the the driver to be held responsible for Wiley Clark's death.
"It really comes down to the bottom line for them," Pajcic said. "The more you can get out of a driver, then the less you have to pay for the drive, the more profits they make, but we need to tell them with lawsuits like these that they have to pay for mistakes, too."
"It's broken hearts and I don't want to see other families suffer needlessly," Bonnie Clark said. "We need to send a message to these companies that these big trucks can't be speeding through our little towns."
News4Jax contacted Walmart and Swift Transportation for comments; we are waiting to hear back.