Patrol: Driver who failed to move over or slow down causes fatal crash

DEFIANCE – A passenger in a vehicle that crashed into a stopped Ohio State Highway Patrol on U.S. 24 Saturday was killed in the crash, according to the patrol.

The fatal crash occurred at 2:35 p.m. on westbound Route 24 between Jewell and Independence roads. At the time of the crash, Sgt. Fernando Chavez, 46, of the Defiance Post had a vehicle stopped on the shoulder for a traffic violation when a pick-up truck drove off the right side of the road and struck Chavez’ patrol car and the vehicle he had stopped.

Justin R. Johnson, 28, Defiance, was driving a 1998 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck when it ran off the right side of the roadway and struck Chavez’ patrol car, a 2019 Dodge Charger, according to the patrol.

The pickup and the patrol car then struck a 2009 Nissan Maxima that Sergeant Chavez had stopped on the shoulder. Chavez had stopped the Nissan, driven by Caleb A. Wolfe, 19, Delphi, Indiana, for a speeding violation and was in the driver’s seat of his patrol car completing a citation when the crash occurred.

Johnson sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken by air ambulance to Promedica Toledo Hospital while his passenger, Steven R. Johnson, 52, Bryan, died at the scene.

Chavez sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported by ground ambulance to Promedica Defiance Regional Hospital. Wolfe and his passenger, Christian L. Jarrell, 17, of Lafayette, Indiana, were also transported by ground ambulance to Promedica Defiance Regional Hospital with possible injuries.

The westbound lanes of Route 24 were closed for approximately one hour following the crash. It was reopened and reduced to one lane until the scene was cleared approximately three hours later.

The patrol was assisted at the scene by the Defiance County Sheriff’s Office, Richland Township Fire Department, Defiance Fire and Rescue Department, Ohio Department of Transportation and John’s Towing & Repair Service.