Man struck crossing the street dies

Wendell French, 74, was trying to help a co-worker with car trouble when he was hit by a truck.

Published February 9, 2007

Clementine met Wendell almost 48 years ago. Three weeks was all they needed to decide to have and to hold until death did them part.

Their parting came Tuesday in a patient room at Tampa General Hospital - four children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren later.

Wendell W. French, 74, died at 7:34 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 6, 2007), four days after he walked into the path of a semitrailer truck near Port Sutton.

The Gibsonton man was a supervisor for Coastal Security and, at the time of the accident, was crossing the street to help a security guard whose truck was stuck in a ditch.

"This is the love of my life and my first love," Clementine "Clem" French, 67, said Thursday. "We had times when I wanted to clunk him with a rolling pin - we all have that if you're married. But I wouldn't have traded him for anything. We always held on to one another."

French voluntarily mowed the grass at his church, Gibsonton United Methodist Church. He loved buying Christmas gifts for unsuspecting families in need. He served in the Korean War, survived cancer and other illness, his wife said. He made a career as a cable technician and engineer, working for a number of cable companies.

Semi driver Fernando Gutierrez, 43, of Tampa, has not been charged in the incident. Though he could not be reached on Thursday evening to talk about French's death, his girlfriend said earlier this week that the accident left him grief-stricken.

A sheriff's spokeswoman said the crash is still under investigation. Funeral services will be held Feb. 17.