DeKalb father gets 12 years for DUI wreck that killed daughter

A DeKalb County father will serve seven years in prison for his role in a 2012 drunk driving wreck that killed his 15-year-old daughter.

Anthony Eugene Johnson, 36, was sentenced to a total of 12 years, five of which he is to serve on probation. The one-car wreck occurred the night of June 3, 2012. Prosecutors say Johnson was drunk when he lost control of the family’s Chrysler Pacifica with four of his children in the vehicle. The vehicle swerved, left the roadway and struck a tree on U.S. 78 near Hugh Howell Road.

Corliss Johnson, the oldest of the four children, died in the crash. Her 11-year-old sister, Joi, suffered serious injuries. The girls’ two younger brothers were also injured, but walked three miles with their father to get help after the crash. Both boys were hospitalized for treatment of their injuries.

“This is a very difficult situation for the entire Johnson family,” DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said in a news release. “While this sentence does not bring Corliss back, it does hold her father accountable for his reckless act of driving under the influence while transporting his young kids.”

Explaining why he walked to the Metro Cafe Diner on Rockbridge Road to report the wreck, Anthony Johnson told a 911 operator that night that he thought both of his daughters were dead and that his cell phone was lost in the accident. Authorities said Johnson initially told diner employees that someone had run him off the road, but within hours of the wreck, he was arrested and charged with DUI, vehicular homicide, failure to maintain lane and multiple counts of endangering the life of a child.

Testimony at his 2012 bond hearing revealed Johnson had previous DUI arrests in 2002 and 2004.