Family of DPS officer killed in I-8 crash suing big rig driver, truck company

YUMA, AZ - The family of an officer killed earlier this year in a crash caused by a distracted driver says they plan to sue both the big rig driver and trucking company.

Tim Huffman, a 14-year Department of Public Safety veteran, was killed in May when a truck smashed into the vehicles of responders to an accident site on Interstate 8 in southwestern Arizona.

Huffman was killed when a tanker truck slammed into his parked patrol car and several other vehicles near Wellton.

The attorney for Huffman's family says they have many questions about how the truck driver was allowed to use his phone to surf the web while driving a big rig down the highway at such high speeds.

ABC15 spoke with the victim's family in Michigan over Skype, and even through the computer it's obvious to see the pain they feel since losing him.

"It's a real big hole in our hearts and in our family," said the victim's sister-in-law Tammy Huffman.

Officer Huffman's identical twin brother Warren, and his wife Tammy, say life hasn't been the same since the tragedy.

"I would say he rates as one of the best friends I've ever had," said Warren Huffman Jr. "Many times I reach for my phone and wait for that text and it just doesn't come in anymore."

A shocking dashcam video released several weeks ago, shows 33-year-old Jorge Espinoza looking at his cell phone appearing to be distracted when he crashed into Huffman on I-8.

The family has hired attorney Michael Leizerman, who specializes in truck accident cases.

"I handle truck accident cases around the country, and I see increasingly texting and driving," said Leizerman.

"When I watch that, I'm not a lawyer," said Leizerman, "I'm not someone who's analyzing a case. When I watch that there's a visceral reaction."

The lawsuit alleges Espinoza violated federal regulations by using his cell phone while driving, and intentionally covering the dash camera inside of the truck with his wallet to hide it.

Espinoza's phone records show he was looking at Facebook and photos of scantily-clad women at the time of the crash.

Espinoza now faces 20 felony charges, including second-degree murder.

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