Tears flowed as Shaun Johnson’s son approached Justin Carey outside the Clark County Courthouse and shook his hand following his mother’s sentencing on Wednesday. Johnson was sentenced to 36 months in prison for the 2013 car crash that seriously injured the Battle Ground teen and led to the amputation of his right leg.
“I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for what happened to you and your family. I got a lot of respect for you,” Joshua Johnson, 29, told Carey with tears in his eyes. “It’s a horrible situation for both families. God works in mysterious ways. I just hope something positive happens from this.”
The apology was met with several more handshakes and hugs from Carey’s surrounding family members.
Joshua Johnson told The Columbian afterward that he “felt a pull” to talk to the family.
“I had to let out my feelings towards them. I didn’t want either family to have ill effects towards the other,” he said.
Earlier that morning, Superior Court Judge David Gregerson followed the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation for Shaun Johnson. Her defense attorney had sought a 12- to 14-month sentence.
Johnson, 48, of Amboy was found guilty by a jury on April 24 of vehicular assault, methamphetamine possession and bail jumping. The jury also voted for a special verdict attached to the vehicular assault charge, which allowed for the longer-than-normal sentence.
She was also ordered to serve six months for drug possession and a year for bail jumping. Those sentences will be served concurrently with the vehicular assault charge. Johnson was given credit for some time served. She was additionally ordered to serve 18 months of community custody and is not to have contact with Carey, now 18.
Her attorney, Shon Bogar, filed a motion to set bail pending her appeal, which was addressed immediately after sentencing. Gregerson set bail at $200,000.
Carey said afterward that he thinks it was a fair sentence by law. “But, in my opinion, she should have gotten a longer sentence and way bigger bail,” he said.
On the morning of June 10, 2013, Johnson struck Carey, then 16, while driving under the influence of methamphetamine. He had been waiting for a school bus along the side of a road. The impact flung him about 80 feet into nearby bushes. Both of his legs were fractured and an artery was severed in his right leg. Carey later had to have that leg amputated as a result of his injuries.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Superior Court, Johnson was driving to work shortly after 7 a.m., heading south on Northeast 82nd Avenue, when she said she dropped a lit cigarette onto the floor. She said she removed her seat belt to bend down and retrieve it. Her 2006 Nissan Altima then veered off the road south of Northeast 289th Street and struck Carey.
Paramedics treated Johnson at the scene for a broken arm, but they didn’t see Carey because he was concealed by the bushes. Johnson also didn’t mention she had hit anyone with her car. A tow truck driver found him more than 90 minutes later, court records state.
Johnson later told police she didn’t know she had struck Carey, according to the affidavit.
While Johnson was being treated for her injuries, sheriff’s Deputy Tim Gosch retrieved her driver’s license from her purse to help fill out a collision report and found two small bags of methamphetamine, court documents said.
Johnson admitted to law enforcement that she is an addict and had used the drug two days before the crash. Her blood later tested positive for methamphetamine.
During sentencing, Gregerson allowed Carey and his parents to read statements to the court.
‘Youth was taken’
Carey said since the crash he’s been plagued with phantom pain where his leg used to be and nightmares.
“I feel part of my youth was taken from me because Shaun Johnson decided to do drugs that morning and drive,” he said. “I cannot sleep at night without my service dog. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night screaming for my parents to save me.”
His father, Jim Carey, said there are many activities his son will now miss out on, like riding a bicycle and hiking. He added that it “breaks his heart” his son can’t fulfill his dreams of joining the military.
“I don’t know if there is any remorse in Shaun Johnson’s heart, but I have not seen any remorse from her in this courtroom,” he said.
Johnson later repeatedly apologized for Justin Carey’s injuries.
“To say that I’m not remorseful breaks my heart,” she said. “I couldn’t tell him or his family how sorry I am for his injuries (because of the no-contact order). I want them to know I’m very sorry for his injuries.”
She told Gregerson that as a parent she couldn’t imagine getting the same kind of call about her son.
Carey said after the hearing that “a part of him” believed Johnson was sorry.
His father disagreed. “I thought it was not sincere. I thought it was more of a plea to the judge,” he said.
Carey’s mother, Janette Chumley, told media that she hopes Johnson seeks treatment for her substance abuse. She added that she finds it frustrating Johnson is trying to appeal her conviction and said she didn’t expect she would do so that day.
“I don’t understand how you can apologize for something and turn around and appeal to get out of jail,” Chumley said.
Joshua Johnson told Carey that his mother has expressed remorse to her family for what she did.
He added that he too was an addict and grew up around the drug use. He said he served prison time for his poor choices but has been “clean” for the last 27 months.
“I just hope she gets her life back,” Joshua Johnson told The Columbian. “There’s a lot better life that can be lived without drugs.”