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Cornelius man charged with DWI, leaving scene of accident involving China Grove Middle School bus


SALISBURY — A Cornelius man was charged with driving while impaired Monday morning after he caused a three-vehicle crash that involved a China Grove Middle School bus, according to the State Highway Patrol.

The crash occurred at 8:39 a.m. in the 5000 block of N.C. 152 at Water Oak Lane.

Ten students and the driver were on board the school bus. Trooper S.L. Herrin said four students received minor injuries and were picked up by their parents at the scene. They have since received medical treatment.

William Johnson, 28, was charged with driving while impaired, driving while license revoked, failure to report an accident, hit and run, and failure to reduce speed.

The Highway Patrol says Johnson was driving a Jeep Wrangler when he struck a Jeep Cherokee in the rear. The Cherokee then hit the school bus.

The Cherokee was driven by Henry Harris, 68, of Statesville.

The bus had its stop lights and stop arm activated and was preparing to pick up a child. It’s not clear if the child had already boarded the bus, but the trooper is hoping to look at video footage from the bus to determine that.

Johnson’s sport utility vehicle went off the road and struck a tree. He stayed at the scene for a few minutes but left before the trooper’s arrival. Witnesses at the scene say they saw Johnson get out of his SUV and take off into nearby woods behind a house.

Herrin said he checked a nearby Dollar General store since it was the closet business to see if anyone matching Johnson’s description had been inside, but no one reported seeing him. The trooper stayed at the store a few minutes more to finish reports and a man matching Johnson’s description walked up to the store.

The man was identified as the registered driver of the vehicle that caused the crash. Johnson admitted to driving that vehicle and causing the crash, the trooper said.

“He was intoxicated — twice the legal limit,” Herrin said.

The trooper said Johnson’s license had already been revoked. He said Johnson was likely traveling 50 mph in a 55-mph speed zone and it was raining at the time of the accident.

The Atwell Fire Department also responded to the scene.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.



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