Trucker indicted in deaths of Georgia Southern nursing students

A Bryan County Grand Jury on Wednesday indicted the tractor-trailer driver accused of causing the crash that killed five Georgia Southern University nursing students and injured two others.

John Wayne Johnson, 56, of Shreveport, La., was indicted on nine counts, including five counts of first-degree vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving, following too closely and failure to exercise due care. Johnson’s employer, Total Trucking, was also indicted on five counts of first-degree vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle and criminal responsibility of corporations.

On April 22, 2015, seven young women were traveling in two cars to Savannah for their final clinical of the school year when the deadly pileup occurred.

Five students perished: Emily Clark, 20, of Powder Springs; Morgan Bass, 20, of Leesburg; Abbie Deloach, 21, of Savannah; Catherine “McKay” Pittman, 21, of Alpharetta; and Caitlyn Baggett, 21, of Millen. Two were injured and survived: Megan Richards of Loganville and Brittney McDaniel of Reidsville.

Investigators believe Johnson rear-ended a Toyota Corolla carrying Clark, Pittman and Baggett. The tractor-trailer then hit the Ford Escape carrying Deloach, Bass, Richards and McDaniel.

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Prior to the wreck, Johnson has been texting on his cellphone, and he was at the end of his shift, an attorney for some of the families has said. No criminal charges had been filed against Johnson prior to the Grand Jury’s indictments.

In recent weeks, the students’ families have been awarded millions of dollars to settle lawsuits filed against Johnson, Total Trucking and its parent company, U.S. Xpress of Chattanooga.

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