Police say medical condition may have caused Knob Creek Crash

Local News

March 25th, 2014 1:32 pm by Staff Reports

Police say a man may have suffered from a medical condition before driving into a fence outside of a local strip mall. (Joe Avento/Johnson City Press)

Police think that a driver may have succumbed to a medical condition before crashing his car into a fence in central Johnson City.

On Tuesday afternoon, Larry L. Jenkins, 56, Johnson City, drove a 1993 Toyota Camry into a fence in front of a strip mall located near the intersection of Knob Creek Road and Woodside Drive. 

According to the accident report, Jenkins was driving north on Knob Creek when he veered into the fence, causing what police estimated to be less than $400 in damage. The Camry was also damaged to the point where police said it was no longer drivable, and it was towed from the scene.

Jenkins was transported to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment, though, by Tuesday evening, Mountain States Health Alliance Communications and Marketing Director Shane O’Hare said he was not on the hospital’s patient list.


Press Sports Writer Joe Avento grabbed these photos of a Knob Creek Road crash near Sunset Drive around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The car crashed into a fence near the strip mall containing Cranberries, Tri-County Home Medical Equipment Ostomy Supplies and other businesses.

Additional Photos

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Micanopy girl killed in raceway crash ‘lived her dream,’ family members say

The Micanopy Middle School ninth-grader was excited and spent her time gutting the car. Then she and her father had it fitted with the equipment needed for a racing car.

On Saturday at Bubba Raceway Park north of Ocala, Niokoa and her father arrived early, and she practiced driving her car in the pits.

“It was her first time actually driving the car,” Richard Johnson said at his Micanopy home on Tuesday.

Then it was time for her to drive on the track. Her first lap was uneventful. On her second lap, Niokoa appeared to lose control of the car, and it crashed into a concrete wall.

The girl was first transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center and then airlifted to Shands. She died Sunday at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

“She was happiest when she was pursuing her dream,” said Sandy Messer, one of Niokoa’s aunts.

Maj. Tommy Bibb, of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, said Tuesday that Florida Highway Patrol officials will assist in an investigation of the crash. MCSO detectives and FHP troopers will inspect the car at the Sheriff’s Office sometime on Wednesday.

Bibb said they’re awaiting results from the Medical Examiner’s Office in Gainesville to determine the cause of death. He called the incident “an accidental tragic death.”

Johnson said Niokoa was born at North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville and attended the charter elementary school in Micanopy and then the middle school.

Her grandmother Dorothy Johnson and aunt Nancy Fell said Niokoa loved animals and the outdoors. Family members said she was shy and didn’t let too many people get close to her.

Once she did, however, “you were a friend for life,” her grandmother said.

Niokoa liked riding dirt bikes and target shooting and had a boxer name Ally, who’s 5. Family members said the teen was outspoken and strong-willed. She loved life, they said, and was a dreamer.

Niokoa wore mostly jeans and T-shirts. Lately though, her grandmother said with a smile, the girl was “slowly but surely” warming up to the idea of wearing dresses.

The family said Niokoa was a “daddy’s girl” and was fearless and dreamed of becoming a race car driver. Wherever Richard Johnson went, they said, Niokoa was by his side.

“Everything he did, he did for his kids,” Fell said. “He lived and breathed for his children.”

Niokoa was the youngest child, with two sisters and a brother. She watched one of her sisters race go-carts and cars and wanted to follow in her footsteps.

Richard Johnson said he would take Niokoa to the races and mud bogging.

“She’s been around it all her life,” her father said. “It was something she dreamed about.”

When Niokoa’s car was ready, she wanted to model it after her sister’s car. The orange color, the No. 17, were just some of the things Niokoa had on her car that were similar to her sister’s.

“She didn’t have a favorite driver,” her father said. “She wanted to be her own favorite driver.”

Family members said Niokoa died doing what she loved doing most and they accept her death. They said that Niokoa’s death, though tragic, could have occurred while she was riding her dirt bike or even crossing the road.

“It was just a freak accident,” her father said. “I still believe the sport is safe. She had all the safety guards. She lived her dream.”

“So many people never got a chance to pursue their dreams, but she did,” Fell said.

“I feel like I let her live,” said her father.

Family members said that, since Niokoa’s death, the support they have received from people as far away as Canada has been “overwhelming.” They said they want to thank everyone, especially the racing community, for their thoughts, prayers and donations.

Contact Austin L. Miller at austin.miller@starbanner.com or 867-4118.

Torrington accident damages 3 cars


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Tuesday, March 25, 2014 1:06 AM EDT

Torrington accident damages 3 cars

A Torrington firefighter cleans up Main Street after a Subaru hit two parked cars Monday afternoon. Alec Johnson/RA

TORRINGTON — Three cars were towed from Main Street on Monday afternoon after a Subaru hit two parked cars downtown.

The gold Subaru wagon continued north on Main Street about 100 yards after the 2 p.m. crash, and stopped just past the Warner Theatre, where Bill McKenna was hanging letters on the theater’s marquee.

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Local teen racer witnesses fatal Ocala raceway crash

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — A local teenage race car driver witnessed the horrific raceway accident in Ocala that claimed the life of a 15-year-old girl.

James Owen Burnell, 13, briefly met Niokoa Johnson Saturday at the Bubba Raceway Park. He said what happened on the track was a freak accident and it’s something he tries to never think about while he’s on the track.

His race car number is 91.

“That’s the whole family’s number,” said Burnell. “It’s in my blood. My grandpa, to my dad, to my family; everybody in my family basically races.”

Burnell said he started racing go-karts when he was four.

“I just knew from the very beginning this was going to be a road we were going to travel down,” said Jessica Burnell, Owen’s mother.

Following his grandfather’s and father’s tire tracks, now Owen has his own race car.

“There’s been numerous times where I’ve had hands over my eyes and you can’t breathe and just gotta walk away,” said Jessica.

She still gets nervous, but wants her son to live his dream.

“Just when you sit in that seat belt it just exciting, you don’t know, you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Burnell.

No one expected the crash on Saturday. Johnson reportedly lost control on the track and died after the crash. Burnell was there and saw the whole thing.

“We talked to her for like 45 minutes since she was out there on the track,” said Burnell. “[She] Was excited. She was ready to get in it, happy to get in that car.”

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the accident. They say it was her first time on the track.

“It takes seat time which you steady stay in a car and you steady stay learning things about the car and learn to handle and control the race car. That’s the reason she went out there all by herself to get the feeling of the car and she just lost control,” added Burnell.

Some NASCAR drivers like Jeff Gordon started out at a young age driving go karts, eventually moving to higher divisions.

“He’s been around it his whole entire life, it gave me more peace knowing that,” added Jessica.

Micanopy girl remembered following fatal crash

“RIP baby girl, I love you always,” wrote Niokoa Johnson’s father, Richard Johnson, on his Facebook page.

Since the Saturday accident he has posted a banner of his 15-year-old daughter’s face below the words “In Loving Memory,” bookended by soaring angels.

By 6 p.m. Monday, the Prayers for Niokoa Johnson Facebook group had garnered 1,330 members. Comments came from far and wide as local and distant race car enthusiasts and supporters of the teen reacted to the news of her death.

Niokoa died Sunday at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, to which she had been airlifted from Ocala Regional Medical Center.

On Saturday night Niokoa took to the track at Bubba Raceway Park at 9050 NW Gainesville Road in Ocala for a time trial in a race-ready Nissan Sentra. Witnesses said she was conducting a second lap toward the north end of the track when she lost control of the car and it crashed into a concrete barrier.

According to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office news release, this was her first time on the track and she was the lone driver cruising around the dirt stretch.

“It’s just very tragic,” said Kelly Harris, co-owner of the Coffee N’ Cream restaurant on Cholokka Boulevard in Micanopy, on Monday.

Standing in her shop in late afternoon, Harris said she didn’t know the young woman personally but remembered severing ice cream to Niokoa and her brother after school and recalled watching Niokoa grow up through the years.

Niokoa was a ninth-grader at Micanopy Middle School. On Monday, the 11-space parking lot was vacant as students and staff were out of school for spring break.

Outside Niokoa’s Micanopy home, seven cars were parked on the lawn but no one was moving about.

Word of her death had started to circulate around the small town as those who knew her remembered her fondly while others who heard the news for the first time were surprised.

At Bubba Raceway Park a roadside memorial has begun to form, with a large teddy bear sitting in the grass among other objects and three flower balloons that were tumbling in the breeze.

One racetrack owner declined to comment Monday out of respect for the family.

Niokoa’s red race car has been placed into evidence by the Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the crash.

Contact April Warren at 867-4065 or april.warren@ocala.com. Follower her on Twitter @ajtwarren.

Slick ramp causes 22-car accident south in Lenexa

A slick ramp on southbound 69 Highway at Interstate 35 caused a 22-vehicle accident at about 6:30 a.m., sending eight people to the hospital with minor injuries, dispatchers reported Sunday.

Lenexa police and state troopers closed the ramp after the accidents were reported. The ramp had been reopened by 9 a.m. Dispatchers reported the icy ramp caused drivers to lose control. Eight people were taken to Overland Park Regional Hospital for treatment.

Olathe police also had to briefly close the 56 Highway ramp onto northbound I-35 at about 9:15 a.m. after an accident involving five to seven vehicles, a dispatcher reported. No serious injuries were reported.

Numerous other accidents also were being reported in the metropolitan area Sunday morning, most of them in southern Johnson County, due to slick road conditions, initial reports also indicated none caused serious injuries.

Woman, 33, killed in Linn County car crash

A 33-year-old woman died in a car crash that was reported by a resident who lives near the scene of the accident, on Oakville Road, south of Albany. Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley’s deputies are investigating the fatal accident, which was reported at 6:48 a.m. Sunday.

The driver, and single occupant of the 1991 Acura Integra, was identified as 33-year-old Shayna Johnson of Philomath.

According to the Sheriff’s office investigation, Johnson had been traveling south on
Oakville Road when she lost control of her vehicle near the intersection
of Walnut Drive. The car crossed the opposing lane of
travel, and slid into a ditch.

The investigation also found the car then crashed through a horse fence, and then rolled. Johnson was ejected from the vehicle. It is unknown at this time why Johnson’s car left the roadway, and it appears no other vehicles were involved. It’s also not known at this point if alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Linn County Deputies were assisted by members of the Albany Fire
Department.  A funeral home removed the body from the scene. The investigation is continuing.

– Kristi Turnquist.

22-Car Wreck In Lenexa Leaves 8 Injured

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Light early morning snow caused slick conditions that led to a 22-vehicle highway accident in suburban Kansas.

The Kansas City Star reports eight people sustained minor injuries after 22 vehicles were involved in the accident on a ramp along Highway 69 and Interstate 35 early Sunday.

Dispatchers reported the icy ramp caused drivers to lose control.

Numerous other accidents also were reported in the Kansas City metropolitan area Sunday morning, most of them in southern Johnson County, due to the slick road conditions.

22-car Sunday accident leaves 8 injured

KHPLENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Light early morning snow caused slick conditions that led to a 22-vehicle highway accident in suburban Kansas.

The Kansas City Star reports eight people sustained minor injuries after 22 vehicles were involved in the accident on a ramp along Highway 69 and Interstate 35 early Sunday.

Dispatchers reported the icy ramp caused drivers to lose control.

Numerous other accidents also were reported in the Kansas City metropolitan area Sunday morning, most of them in southern Johnson County, due to the slick road conditions.



Person injured in two-car Davidsville crash



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Police said one driver was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center Saturday when a driver ran a red light at the intersection of Main Street and Campus Avenue in Davidsville.

The drivers’ names were not available Saturday. According to police, the accident happened shortly before 3 p.m. when a grey sedan ran a red light and struck a sport utility vehicle and pushed it into a telephone pole.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014 6:00 pm.

Updated: 7:21 pm.

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Vincent Zangaglia