Woodleaf woman killed in crash

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

By Frank DeLoache and Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

WOODLEAF — A 39-year-old mother of three died some time Wednesday night or early Thursday morning when her vehicle ran off a bridge and overturned in Fourth Creek.

N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper C.F. Rogers said Suzanne Johnson, 39, of 335 Robert Hargrove Road, died in the accident.

Johnson’s mother, Barbara Sue Johnson, said her daughter recently moved from the Robert Hargrove Road address to Needmore Road, near the Davie County line.

So far, Rogers said Thursday morning, he hasn’t been able to determine when the accident occurred.

Passerby Jody Bare discovered the accident about 5:15 a.m. as he drove along Hart Road, between Cool Springs and Needmore roads, and crossed the bridge over Fourth Creek.

Bob Turner, of the Woodleaf Fire Department, said Bare noticed debris on the bridge but didn’t realize an accident had occurred until he was on the other side of the bridge. He turned around, found Johnson’s 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee partially submerged in the water and called 911.

Trooper Rogers said Johnson got off her job at Freightliner at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

At some point, she was driving north on the Hart Road bridge when the sport utility vehicle went off the right side, breaking through the bridge’s wooden railing and overturning, Rogers said.

The Grand Cherokee hit the bridge embankment and slid into the creek upside down.

Rogers said emergency workers found Johnson’s body pinned in the car and submerged in water.

Johnson’s body was taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center, where a medical examiner, James DeSimone, will determine cause of death.

Rogers said speed was not a factor in the accident. He estimated Johnson was driving 45 to 50 mph, and he found no skid marks.

The trooper also said he found no containers of alcohol in the car.

Johnson is the daughter of Dennis and Barbara Sue Johnson, of Southmont.

Barbara Sue Johnson said her daughter was divorced and had three children– Chad Vance, 17, Cassy Vance ,15 and 11-year-old Ashley Reeves.

An official at Freightliner said no co-workers or supervisor were available Thursday to comment on working with Johnson.

Her mother said she worked with truck wiring and had been employed at Freightliner for about a year and a half.

Barbara Sue Johnson said she last talked to her daughter on Tuesday morning. “She was loved by her mother and her kids and she’ll be missed really bad. She worked hard,” Johnson said.

Turner, the Woodleaf Fire Department official, said 12 volunteers responded to the accident scene Thursday morning. Units from the Rowan County Rescue Squad and Emergency Medical Service also went to the scene.

Trooper Rogers said a state highway crew was repairing the bridge railing during the day Thursday.

Contact Frank DeLoache at 704-797-4245 or fdeloache@salisburypost.com.