Tow-truck driver who witnessed son's death sues driver, Wal-Mart

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 23, 2007, 10:00am

A father who witnessed his son's death filed suit against Wal-Mart and the man who is responsible for his son's death.

Rick Smith filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court July 18, claiming Gordon Barksdale of Golden Eagle was drunk when he collided with his son's car that was in a ditch, five miles south of Jerseyville on Route 109 on Dec 13, 2006.

Smith's son, Keith, called his father, a tow-truck driver, to get his car from the ditch.

According to the complaint, Smith was in the passenger seat of his tow truck talking to his son who was outside of the vehicle when Barksdale failed to stop, left the roadway, striking Keith with his vehicle as he stood next to his father near the driver's side of the truck.

"Rick Smith was in the zone of danger and witnessed the horrific death of his son before his eyes," the complaint states.

Keith's estate filed a wrongful death suit against Barksdale earlier in the year.

Smith claims Barksdale drove his vehicle at a speed too fast for conditions, failed to keep his vehicle under proper control, failed to reduce his speed as he approached a vehicle stopped in traffic, operated his vehicle while intoxicated from alcohol and operated his vehicle while intoxicated from the consumption of drugs.

Barksdale is serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated DUI death of another and driving on a revoked license. His projected parole date is June 11, 2015.

He was convicted in 2002 of driving drunk with a revoked license in Calhoun County and sentenced to one year in prison.

Smith claims Barksdale consumed alcohol that he purchased at Wal-Mart earlier in the evening.

He claims he suffers from emotional injuries, has and will suffer pain of body and mind, has incurred medical expenses and lost wages.

Represented by Samuel Mormino, Jr of Alton, Smith is seeking damages in excess of $100,000, plus costs.

07 L 639

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