April 27, 2014

DPS: Still investigating Wise County crash that killed four

DPS Sgt. Lonny Haschel: “There is not an immediate single causative factor that stands out at this early stage of the investigation.”

So far, investigators haven’t found an obvious cause for a wreck in Wise County that killed four people, including a justice of the peace who was driving the wrong way on U.S. 287, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper said Sunday.

DPS troopers will continued to interview witnesses and examine physical evidence from the accident, which occurred just before 6 p.m. Saturday south of Decatur, DPS Sgt. Lonny Haschel said in an email Sunday.

“There is not an immediate single causative factor that stands out at this early stage of the investigation,” Haschel said. “There is also nothing to lead them to believe alcohol was a factor at this time.”

Wise County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson, whose age was not available, was killed in the accident. DPS officials Sunday identified those killed in the other vehicle as Juan Rios, 31, and Sherry Rios, 50, of Quanah, and Amy D. Culwell, 35, of Chillicothe. The sole survivor of the crash, a 4-year-old girl, was not identified by Sunday.

Johnson was driving a Volkswagen Passat south in the northbound lanes of U.S. 287 near County Road 4228 at about 5:55 p.m. when her vehicle collided head-on with a Chevrolet TrailBlazer, according to DPS reports. Juan Rios was driving the TrailBlazer.

He and the two women in that vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene, as was Johnson, Haschel said.

The 4-year-old girl, who was also in the TrailBlazer, was seriously injured and taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth by helicopter ambulance. Her condition was unavailable Sunday afternoon.

Decatur is 41 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

Northbound U.S. 287 from Farm Road 407 remained shut down more than four hours after the accident, Haschel said.

Johnson’s accomplishments as justice of the peace included winning approval in early 2009 to use ankle monitors to keep track of truant students.

“I’m not looking to convict students but to help them,” Johnson, who presided over Precinct 2 in Decatur, told the Star-Telegram in March 2009. “We want to help them go to school, and 30 days can do a lot to change up their behavior.”

Johnson has served Precinct 2 since 2007 and was unopposed in the most recent election. According to her re-election website, she and her husband have two sons.

In a letter to voters on the site, she pledged to “be innovative, efficient, and the hardest-working Judge in the County.”

“I look forward to continuing my work with juveniles (the leaders of tomorrow),” she wrote. “My re-election can offer these young adults a firsthand opportunity to correct mistakes, while positively impacting their lives.”

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

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