A calm Wednesday morning in DeLand turned tragic when a man fled from a traffic stop and subsequently flipped his car, killing himself and a dog in the process. The official report indicates that Justin L. Johnson, a 26-year-old from Lake Helen, had been engaged in an argument with his girlfriend when the argument became threatening enough for the woman to flee the scene in a taxicab. In the cab, she reportedly told the cab driver that her boyfriend was chasing her and that she needed to go to the hospital.
The cab driver began taking the woman to Florida Hospital DeLand while simultaneously alerting the police to the pursuing Johnson’s presence. The first officer to spot the cars, Officer Tony Tagle, pulled over the white SUV driven by Johnson and approached the vehicle. At first, the interaction between Tagel and Johnson was routine, with Johnson admitting that he and his girlfriend had been engaged in an argument. At this point, Tagle noticed something in the car that he had reason to believe was an illegal narcotic.
Officer Tagle requested that Johnson exit the vehicle. Johnson began to make moves indicating that he was leaving the car, but then apparently decided to take a different approach. Slamming his door, Johnson attempted to catch the Officer Tagle off guard and speed away. Officer Tagle’s hand became caught in the car door, resulting in him being dragged for a short distance before he was able to free himself. Johnson, believing himself to have a decent head start, sped away.
A few minutes later, the white SUV was found on its side, badly damaged, on Stone Street. There was a fire burning in the engine compartment and no movement from the cab of the car. The emergency response team who responded to the accident say that they found Johnson dead in the car. Sadly, Johnson also had a dog with him at the time of the crash and this animal also perished in the accident.
Officer Tagle was treated at a hospital due to the injuries sustained on his hand. No other information has been released at this time.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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