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Man pleads guilty to vehicular homicide in 2020 crash that killed his brother

Scene of a head on fatality crash in the northbound lanes of I-5 (July 1, 2020). WSDOT traffic camera

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — 76-year-old Gary Vernon Johnson was taken into custody Friday, January 21st, to begin serving a 366-day sentence after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide related to a July 1, 2020, crash that killed his brother, who was a passenger in the car Johnson was driving.

The head on crash occurred in the northbound lanes of I-5 between the Smith Road overpass and the Slater Road interchange. According to the Washington State Patrol (WSP), troopers had received multiple reports of a silver Lexus traveling southbound in the northbound lanes and were heading to the area when the crash occurred.

There were 2 males in the Lexus when it crashed into a Toyota Camry. The passenger in the Lexus was declared dead at the scene and the driver transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center unconscious and in critical condition. The driver of the Toyota was also transported by ambulance as a precaution with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Lexus driver, identified as Johnson of Graham, admitted to a WSP drug recognition expert “to consuming at least 5 beers and also admitted to taking medication,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court.

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Johnson, who was out of custody after posting a $50,000 bond, appeared at his sentencing hearing Friday, in Whatcom County Superior Court.

An 18-month community custody sentence and $900 in restitution and fines were also included in the sentencing.

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