Charges: Driver in crash that killed firefighters had used marijuana, barely slept


The man driving a truck on a busy Minnesota freeway when it crashed, killing two firefighters on board, told authorities he had barely slept and had used marijuana the morning of the wreck, according to charges filed against him.

Michael Allen Johnson, a 28-year-old from Baraga, Michigan, was charged Monday in the deaths of his two fellow firefighters.

He was among the 11 members of Michigan's Beartown Firefighters of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community traveling in a caravan to a wildfire in Utah, according to the community's Facebook page.

But one of the trucks crashed Saturday afternoon in Blaine, on Interstate 35W near 95th Avenue, the Minnesota State Patrol says. The crash killed 25-year-old Alan Swartz and 23-year-old James Shelifoe.

Details form the charges

Johnson is charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide. You can read the criminal complaint here.

According to the charges:

Johnson was in the driver's seat when authorities arrived at the seems, and law enforcement noted there were "signs of impairment and combative behavior" from him.

He was later interviewed, and told investigators he'd woken up at 11 a.m. on Friday (the day before the crash), and outside of a 45-minute nap early the next morning, had not slept.

He also told investigators he'd used cocaine on Thursday, and the morning of the crash had used marijuana.

Investigators collected a blood sample from Johnson – results are not yet in.

Johnson said he thinks he fell asleep while driving, and woke up to the sound of his passenger yelling. He was veering off-road and tried to correct course, but crashed into the barrier.

Johnson appeared in court Tuesday morning.

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