Deputy Recalls Crash, Looks to Future
It's been almost two months since an Alachua County deputy was involved in a serious crash that sent her to the hospital with serious injuries. Deputy Cynthia Johnson has been in a wheelchair since a June 26th crash that broke both her legs. She was hit by a drunk driver - a driver who was almost three times over the legal limit.
"I remember looking up at the roof of my car for some reason and looking back down and seeing an airbag. It's kind of more of a reality check like, 'Is this really me in this crash.'"
Deputy Cynthia Johnson, who goes by CJ, recalls the night that nearly killed her. Johnson was involved in a head-on collison on Southwest 20th Avenue in Gainesville back in June. Her car was completely totaled and her legs smashed on impact. Still, she managed to call in her own crash. The driver of the pickup truck, 22 year-old Lonnie Shanklin, was arrested Saturday morning in Gilchrist County.
The Florida Highway Patrol didn't arrest Shanklin at the time of the crash; they waited two months for the toxicology reports which reveal Shanklin had a blood alcohol level of .208, well above the legal limit of .08. The crash sent Johnson to the hospital for 6 days. She remains in a wheelchair and out of work.
"I talk to my guys all the time which is great. If I could go back tomorrow," says Johnson.
Johnson has patrolled the streets of Alachua County for a year. She says she will spend her time educating people about the dangers of drinking and driving.
As for forgiveness, Johnson, she says that will take some time. She wants Shanklin to understand the pain she's been through and the troubles she still faces.
"I think that's when forgiveness comes, is when that actually happens. When it does, it's not the easiest thing, but everybody makes mistakes. I understand that concept, I do."
Doctors tell Johnson she should be back to work in January. She attends physical therapy twice a week. As for Shanklin, he is in the Gilchrist County Jail tonight and faces four counts of DUI.
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