PEMBROKE, Ga. (AP) – A Louisiana truck driver has pleaded guilty to nine criminal charges, including five counts of first degree vehicular, stemming from a fiery interstate crash that killed five nursing students on Interstate 16 near Savannah in April of 2015.
56 year old John Wayne Johnson entered the pleas Thursday in a Bryan County courtroom and was sentenced to five years in prison and five years probation. He might have received prison sentences of more than 90 years if he had been tried and convicted by a jury.
Johnson of Shreveport, Louisiana, was behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 16 when it smashed into stop-and-go traffic on April 22, 2015. The collision killed five nursing students from nearby Georgia Southern University.
A grand jury indicted Johnson last month on charges including five counts of first-degree vehicular homicide. His employer, Total Transportation of Mississippi, agreed to pay $78 million to settle civil lawsuits after the crash. Last week, the state dropped charges against the company after Total Transportation agreed to pay $200,000.
Judge Robert Russell telling us that Johnson was “choked up” as he made an apology to the court and the young women’s parents.