ST. FRANCIS COUNTY, Ark. — A Florida man who fled from a state trooper during a traffic stop Friday morning was killed in a head-on collision that injured four people about an hour later, Arkansas State Police said.
Authorities said 39-year-old Russell Johnson, who was driving a Chrysler sedan, was pulled over by a state trooper on Interstate 40 near Carlisle about 10:30.
Johnson sped off eastbound. The trooper pursued him, but lost sight of him.
At 11:30 the suspect was spotted driving the wrong way in the westbound lanes of I-40 east of Forrest City, authorities said. Moments later, the vehicle was involved in a head-on crash involving four vehicles at mile marker 257.
Johnson died in the wreck.
At least four people in the other vehicles were injured, and one was airlifted to a hospital.
Troopers aren’t saying why Johnson was initially pulled over.
Paul Romer is driving I-40 to Canada.
“It probably wasn’t a capital offense that he was running from, yet he paid the price,” Romer says.
Romer feels sorry for the innocent people who got hurt.
“We have two families in our van right now and to think about something like that, that would happen, that would endanger our families is unthinkable,” Romer says.
John Plett is traveling with this family and says it easily could have been them in the wreck. He calls it fate.
“Maybe that’s why we left later from home than we wanted to so we weren’t in the middle of that,” Plett says.
Three people injured in the crash are from Southaven and another is from Friendship, Tennessee.