Dad charged with culpable negligence in crash

1-year-old girl suffers minor injuries after father lost control going 115 mph, deputies say


ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A 1-year-old girl suffered only minor injuries after the car being driven by her father crashed into a power pole when he lost control while going 115 mph, according to the Florida Highway Patrol and St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Kenneth Johnson, 31, of Elkton, was driving at a high speed about 11 p.m. Tuesday heading northbound on County Road 13 just north of County Road 305 when he lost control, according to the FHP report.

Deputy Gerald Thompson was traveling south on County Road 13 when he saw Johnson's car driving at a high speed, deputies said. Thompson activated his radar and clocked Johnson at 115 mph as his car passed, deputies said. The speed limit on the road is 55 mph.

Thompson turned around to catch up to the car and conduct a traffic stop. As he approached the intersection of County Road 305, he saw Johnson lose control of the car and leave the roadway.

The car went on the left shoulder, struck a power pole and caught fire, troopers said.

Deputies said Johnson got out of the car and immediately went back in an effort to remove the girl from the car seat in the rear of the vehicle.

Johnson suffered serious injuries, troopers said. He and the girl, Veronica Johnson, were taken to Orange Park Medical Center.

Johnson was charged with careless driving, according to FHP, which handled the crash investigation. Investigators don't know why he was driving so fast. FHP is investigating to see if a child car seat pulled from the wreckage was in use.

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said it signed a complaint affidavit against Johnson on charges of reckless driving and culpable negligence by exposing the girl to personal injury while speeding.

The girl was was released to a relative, who said the child is OK.

Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said it's miraculous no one was killed.

"You can only chalk this up -- not having significant injuries to either the driver and/or this child -- as complete luck," Mulligan said. "(Going) 113 mph creates a significant crush factor, not to mention that the car burst into flames upon impact. So the fact that all of these factors came together and that child was not hurt, quite frankly somebody was smiling down upon it."