Probe into crash that killed Tweeter's husband concludes

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

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Washington State Patrol has finished its investigation into a fatal crash that went viral after a Vancouver woman live-tweeted the collision before realizing it was her husband who died in the crash.

Craig Johnson, 47, likely either lost consciousness or fell asleep at the wheel on the afternoon of Dec. 4, causing the two-car crash on southbound Interstate 205 just north of Vancouver, investigators said Thursday.

Johnson was driving a Hyundai Elantra north on the highway when troopers say it left the roadway, crossed the grassy median and struck a southbound Toyota Tacoma head-on. Carol Shelley, 54, of Tacoma was injured in the crash.

Moments after the crash, Caran Johnson began tweeting about the collision using her Twitter handle @scancouver.

Caran Johnson, 42, regularly listens in on emergency scanner traffic broadcast in Clark County and tweets out fire, police and medical calls. And Dec. 4 was no exception.

When WSP Trooper Will Finn confirmed over Twitter that a person had died in the crash, Johnson expressed sympathy.

“omg that is so horrible!!!” she wrote.

The mother of two began to worry, however, when she realized her husband was late coming home from work.

She tweeted: “I just called his work and he was feeling faint when he left work. #panic”

She continued to tweet her anguish as she sought information, even directing tweets to Finn and staff at The Columbian, asking for descriptions of the cars involved.

Once Finn got confirmation that Craig Johnson was the one who had died, Finn sped up the next-of-kin notification process and sent two troopers to give Caran Johnson the news.

“it’s him. he died,” she tweeted.

Caran Johnson did not respond to requests to be interviewed by The Columbian.

Investigators found no signs of braking or swerving after Craig Johnson’s car entered the grassy median, according to state patrol, which indicates that the driver was not in control of the vehicle at the time of the crash. WSP can’t conclusively say, however, what happened.

“There’s no definite answer,” Finn said. “We have to go with the evidence that we have that was out there at the time.”