Witness recalls horrific hit-and-run that killed 3 family members on US-19; suspects sought

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Police are looking for two men who took off running from a crash, leaving a family of three dead in the road.

It’s a dangerous highway; U.S. 19. Just before midnight Saturday at the intersection of Tampa Road, Florida Highway Patrol said a 2013 Buick Lacrosse blew through a red light and right into a 2010 Nissan Versa. Inside the car was the Johnson family. A mother, father and son all died.

“It stinks, you know? They were going to deliver newspapers, I heard, trying to make it for themselves and then something like that happens,” said Walter Hertrich, who lives nearby.

A man that saw the crash told 8 On Your Side the Buick was going 60to 65 miles per hour when it hit the other car. He stopped to help but said two young men in the Buick got out, spoke to his wife and tried blaming the crash on the other car. Then they took off running.

“I think of the families that lost their loved ones. Also, two people panicked,” said Paula Shur, who often drives in the area.

People in the area heard the nightlong search for the two men who fled.

“I heard the helicopter flying around. I assumed they were looking for somebody. I didn’t think it was something as bad as a hit and run,” Hertrich said.

FHP said they have enough evidence from the suspect’s car and are analyzing that to find the driver. They’re also looking for a passenger.

Two men facing charges much more serious than if they had simply stayed at the scene of the crash.

“It’s probably the worst thing you can do to somebody is to leave their body on the side of the road like that after an accident. It’s terrible,” Hertrich said.

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