Special News Release - DUI Homicide Crash - 4/22/2021

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SPECIAL NEWS RELEASE - DUI HOMICIDE CRASH IN MANHEIM TOWNSHIP
April 22, 2021

Lieutenant Michael Piacentino, Public Information Officer
Office: (717) 569-6401 Ext. 1583
Cell: (717) 340-2130


At approximately 8:26 p.m., on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021, officers from the Manheim Township Police Department were dispatched to the 1100 block of Lititz Pike in Manheim Township for a serious head-on collision, on the bridge leading into Lancaster City.  Upon arrival, officers determined that a car, being operated by Jennifer Johnson, F/35 of Lancaster, PA had been traveling southbound on Lititz Pike.  As Johnson approached the bridge, she entered the northbound lane of Lititz Pike, and struck another vehicle head-on, which was traversing the bridge.

Johnson’s vehicle had one passenger, and the vehicle she struck had two occupants, the driver and one passenger.  All four occupants sustained serious to life-threatening injuries and were taken to area hospitals for treatment.  While checking Johnson for injuries, officers observed Johnson exhibiting signs of impairment.  Hours following the crash, the lone passenger in Johnson’s vehicle, an 11-year-old youth of Lancaster, PA died at the hospital as a result of the collision.  Officers reconstructed the crash on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021, taking measurements in order to determine the course of events preceding, during, and immediately following the crash.

Through the course of this investigation, officers determined Johnson committed the following offenses:

1)  Aggravated Assault of Unborn Child – Felony 1 – 1 Count – Johnson did cause such injuries to her unborn child as a result of her operation of a vehicle after traveling over two-and-one-half times the posted speed limit on a roadway, and driving the wrong direction on a two-way highway, which caused other motorists to take evasive action to stop from crashing into her, and failing to brake prior to striking another vehicle that was properly driving within its own lane of travel, resulting in a high speed crash.  Johnson did know that she was pregnant at the time of the crash.

2)  Homicide by Vehicle while DUI – Felony 1 – 1 Count – Johnson, while driving her vehicle, caused the death of her 11-year-old son, by exceeding the posted speed limit and improperly driving on the wrong side of a two-way highway, causing a crash.  Johnson was under the influence of alcohol to the degree that impaired her ability to operate her vehicle safely and had a BAC of 0.262%.  Johnson also has two (2) prior DUI convictions.

3)  Aggravated Assault by Vehicle While DUI – Felony 2 – 1 Count – Johnson, while driving her vehicle, caused serious bodily injuries to a passenger riding in the vehicle that she crashed into.  Johnson was under the influence of alcohol to a degree that impaired her ability to operate her vehicle safely and had a BAC of 0.262%.  The injuries sustained by the passenger included damaged organs and multiple broken bones.

4)  Homicide by Vehicle – Felony 3 – 1 Count – Johnson, while driving her vehicle, caused the death of her 11-year-old son while traveling over two-and one-half times the posted speed limit and improperly driving on the wrong side of a two-way highway, causing a crash.

5)  Aggravated Assault By Vehicle – Felony 3 – 1 Count – Johnson, while driving her vehicle, caused serious bodily injuries to a passenger riding in the vehicle that she crashed into.  The injuries sustained by the passenger included damaged organs and multiple broken bones.

6)  Accidents Involving Injuries While Not Properly Licensed – Felony 3 – 3 Counts – Johnson was operating her vehicle while her driver’s license was suspended for a prior DUI conviction.  While doing so, Johnson exceeded the posted speed limit and improperly drove on the wrong side of a two-way highway, causing a crash.  Johnson caused serious bodily injuries to the three (3) other occupants involved in the crash.

7)  Endangering Welfare of Children – Felony 3 – 1 Count – Johnson endangered her 11-year-old son’s life by driving her vehicle over two-and-one-half times the posted speed limit on a roadway, while under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of 0.262%, and driving in the wrong direction on a two-way highway for a continuous distance.  Johnson also permitted the 11-year-old to ride unrestrained in the front seat of her vehicle.  Johnson’s actions were the direct result of the child’s death listed above.

8)  DUI – General Impairment – Misdemeanor 1 – 1 Count – Johnson operated a vehicle after imbibing alcoholic beverages to the degree which rendered her incapable of safe driving.  This was apparent with her driving over two-and-one-half times the posted speed limit and driving in the wrong direction for a continuous distance.  During the course of her extreme reckless nature of driving her vehicle, she did cause a crash which caused serious bodily injury to three (3) other people.

9)  DUI – Highest Rate of Alcohol – Misdemeanor 1 – 1 Count – Johnson operated a vehicle after imbibing alcoholic beverages, which made her BAC 0.262%.

10)  Recklessly Endangering Another Person – Misdemeanor 2 – 4 Counts – Johnson engaged in a course of conduct which placed others in danger of death or serious bodily injury by driving her vehicle over two-and-one-half times the posted speed limit, while under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of 0.262%, and driving in the wrong lane of travel on a two-way highway.  By doing so, Johnson nearly struck two (2) separate vehicles at a high rate of speed before crashing head-on into an SUV, which was occupied by two (2) individuals.

11)  Driving Under Suspension – DUI Related – Summary – 1 Count – Johnson drove her vehicle while her driver’s license was suspended for a prior DUI conviction, and while having a BAC of 0.262%.

12)  Restraint Systems – Summary – 2 Counts – Johnson failed to properly restrain an 11-year-old passenger inside her vehicle, which was involved in a crash.  Johnson herself was also not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident.

13)  Reckless Driving – Summary – 1 Count – Johnson did drive her vehicle with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others by driving over two-and-one-half times the posted speed limit, while under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of 0.262%, and driving in the wrong lane of a two-way highway to the point where other motorists had to take evasive action to keep from crashing into her.

14)  Driving Vehicle at Safe Speed – Summary – 1 Count – Johnson drover her vehicle at a speed between 67.57 and 69.19 MPH in a 25 MPH posted zone.  Due to this speed, Johnson’s vehicle could not negotiate a curve in the roadway, thereby causing her to lose control and strike another vehicle head-on.

15)  Driving Within a Single Lane – Summary – 1 Count – Johnson failed to drive her vehicle within her proper lane, crossed out of her lane, and struck another vehicle head-on, in the oncoming lane.

16)  Driving on Right Side of Roadway – Summary – 1 Count – Johnson failed to drive on the right half of the roadway, went into the far left of the roadway, and struck another vehicle head-on.

Assistant District Attorney Caitlin Blazier approved the above charges on April 20, 2021.  The following day, April 21, 2021, a criminal complaint containing the above charges was filed with Magisterial District Judge David P. Miller, of Manheim Township.  As a result, a warrant was obtained for Johnson’s arrest.  Officers located Johnson in Marietta and took her into physical custody.  Johnson was processed at the police station and then arraigned before MDJ Miller, who set bail at $50,000.00 unsecured.  Johnson was subsequently released pending her preliminary hearing.

End.


Date: 
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 8:30pm

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Reference ID: 
MT-21-02745 Swigart

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