Palatka babysitter who saved twins shares story

Kayla Johnson pushed 9-year-olds out of truck's path

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The young woman who risked her life to push her babysitting charges out of the way of an out-of-control truck last December is still dealing with the aftermath of her heroic act.

"I didn't care what happened to me. I just wanted to make sure the kids were out of the way," said Kayla Johnson.

Johnson was waiting with the 9-year-old twins she was babysitting for the school bus outside their Palatka home off State Road 19.

"I see the truck coming off the road, and the only thing I think is just to push the kids out of the way," said Johnson, who was 19 at the time. 


The Florida Highway Patrol said the 75-year-old driver of the Toyota Tacoma, Doyle Elliott, had a medical emergency and lost control as he drove northbound on State Road 19 at East Ranch Trail that morning.

Johnson managed to push one of the twins, Abbey, out of the way. News4Jax is not disclosing the twins' last name to protect their identity.

Johnson said she pushed Abbey's brother, Christopher, too, but he was still hit and spent two days in critical care. He was released from the hospital and has recovered.

Johnson took the brunt of the impact. It was so intense, the truck's light was imprinted on her leg. Johnson's pelvis and spine were broken in two places. Her wrist was also broken and ligaments were torn in her knee.


"I thought I would never walk again," Johnson said.

Johnson said she also has brain damage from the accident. A year later, she said her doctor has yet to clear her to return to school. She hopes to attend college soon.

Johnson was given an award for her heroism two months ago by Kiwanis International. She has also been featured in the local Palatka newspaper.

Johnson said despite nearly losing her life in the accident, all she wants from Elliott is an apology.

"That's all I want," Johnson said. "If he could walk up to me saying, 'I'm sorry that I hit all three of you.'" 

About the Author: