Man killed, woman injured in Fourth of July crash in Gaithersbur - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Man killed, woman injured in Fourth of July crash in Gaithersburg

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Shayne Johnson Shayne Johnson
GAITHERSBURG, Md. -

A minor traffic violation led to a deadly accident. Police say an officer spotted an SUV early Thursday morning in Gaithersburg with its high beams on when it took off, and moments later, crashed.

It happened around 1:30 a.m. on East Diamond Avenue, killing 24-year-old Shayne Johnson. The woman in the SUV has not been identified and police still can't say for sure if she will survive.

Johnson's family does not know what they were doing or where they were going.

"I know he's gone. I know there was an accident," said the victim's father, Michael Johnson.

The violent crash mangled the SUV and killed Johnson almost instantly.

"The biggest thought on my mind right now is my son's not coming home anymore," his father said, trying to stay positive and remember the good times with his son.

As word spread about the crash, friends and relatives came together at the family's home in Gaithersburg. Since childhood, it has been a gathering place for Johnson and his many friends. He had always been the glue that brought everyone together.

But now it was his death that brought them back, sharing in their grief, sorrow and disbelief.

"I didn't really believe it,” said his longtime friend and former girlfriend Jazmine Jones. “I got a call saying happy Fourth of July and that Shayne was gone. But I wouldn't believe it.”

Johnson texted her last night and asked her to join him at his aunt's house for a holiday barbecue. She didn't believe that he was gone until she got to his house and spoke to his father herself.

Johnson and another woman, who suffered life-threatening injuries, were thrown from the vehicle.

Shoes, clothes and pieces of twisted metal scattered everywhere. The SUV plowed through a utility pole, bus stop, tree and fire hydrant, throwing both victims from the SUV.

Police say an officer turned to follow them because the driver didn't turn off the high beams.

"Although it is a minor traffic violation, it is sometimes indicative possibly of some other things going on," said Capt. Jim Daly, spokesperson for Montgomery County Police.

The officer lost the SUV when it sped off and ran a red light. As the officer searched the neighborhood to see if the vehicle had pulled into a driveway or one of the businesses along the street, he saw the wreckage. The officer did not witness the crash.

Investigators spent hours during the night with an accident reconstruction team trying to piece together what happened. Many questions remain unanswered: Who was driving? How fast was the SUV going and was alcohol involved? No one seems to know.

"We don't have any information as far as alcohol,” Daly said. “We actually are not certain at this point who the driver was since both occupants were ejected.”

Johnson was an aspiring hip-hop artist who performed in clubs around D.C. He graduated from Magruder High School and his father said he played sports there briefly.

His best friend since childhood, Jordan Taylor, says they were like brothers. The last time they talked, their call got disconnected. Neither decided to call back. Now Taylor is full of regrets because the last time they spoke, he never said goodbye.

"If he hears me right now," he said looking up toward the sky, "I love him to death. I hope God welcomes him into his palace."

As much as Johnson's father struggles, he must now find a way to tell his 2-year-old granddaughter.

"The first thing she said was 'daddy, daddy' and I thought, ‘Oh boy, daddy's gone,'" said the elder Johnson.

Michael Johnson had just retired July 1 from a long career as a Montgomery County school teacher. He and his son had talked about their plans and what they wanted to do. Johnson was one of five kids, but he and his father were the best of friends since Johnson's mother died when he was born.

"It's been 24 good years -- joyous years,” said Michael Johnson. “He was a pleasure, a kid who always kept you laughing ... He's always going to be with me. He'll always be a part of this place, always be a part of my life.”

In time, Johnson's family and friends will learn what happened. Right now though, they are not so much concerned with how he died, but remembering the life he lived.


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