City firefighter on trial starting Monday for off-duty DUI crash

Woman and her son severely injured

December 12, 2010|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore City firefighter is scheduled to stand trial Monday on charges that he hit another car while driving under the influence of alcohol, an off-duty crash that left a woman and her 10-year-old son hospitalized for several weeks this spring.

Christopher Kyle Johnson, who will turn 30 on Christmas Day, was charged with five counts of second degree assault and charges related to causing injury while driving under the influence of alcohol.

He has been on administrative duty since the April accident, pending the outcome of his trial.

Johnson's blood alcohol level following the crash level was .16, double the.08 threshold to be considered under the influence, according to the accident report.

Johnson, of Halethorpe, is a five-year veteran of the department. Neither he nor his attorney Bruce Robinson responded to requests for comment.

Kevin Cartwright, spokesman with the Fire Department, said that the department "would wait for the disposition of the court and base our actions on that," which could result in possible termination, suspension or suspension without pay.

The family traveling in the car that Johnson struck say they are upset that he continues to work for the department and that they have received no apology from Johnson.

"It bothers me. I'm an MTA [bus] driver. You would take my CDL license and put me through a ringer," said Thomas Johnson, a passenger in the struck car. "He's not getting anything done to him," he said. The men are not related.

The family was returning home from a dance recital just before 9 p.m. in the 3000 block of Frederick Road, when their Ford Taurus was struck on the driver's side by Christopher Johnson's Buick Enclave, which crossed the center line into oncoming traffic, according to the accident report.

Thomas Johnson's sister, Heather Faulkner, was driving the Taurus. His daughter Tylia, 2; his niece Amira Jennings, 7; and nephew Jermaine Lee, 10, were riding in the back seat.

Johnson said rescue crews removed the children from the backseat first and then the Fire Department had to cut the roof off the car to get his sister out. Because Faulkner and Lee were on the side of impact, they had the worst injuries.

"The whole driver side of the car was destroyed," Thomas Johnson said.

Jermaine had injuries to his face and head that left his face disfigured.

"It looked like a horror movie," Johnson said. He removed his T-shirt and placed it over the boy's face before he paramedics removed him from the back seat.

"His whole face was disfigured," Faulkner said of her son, who spent three weeks in the hospital, underwent multiple surgeries and missed the end of his third-grade year. His face has healed but he still has several scars, Faulkner said.

"He tells everybody — the teachers," that "on my birthday I'm going to go to the doctor's to get a new face," she said.

Faulkner spent a month in the hospital recovering from her injuries, including a broken hip and a fractured pelvis. She has scars all the way up her arm.

Faulkner, a bus driver for Baltimore County public schools, said she would most likely lose her job if she faced charges of driving under the influence and is angry that Christopher Johnson continues to work for the department.

"It is a night we will never forget," her brother said.

Christopher Johnson could face up to 60 years if convicted of all charges.

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