Share This Page

Wash. woman tweets of crash death, finds out it's husband

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 5:18 p.m.
Emergency crews respond to freeway crash on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Vancouver, Wash., near the border with Oregon.

SEATTLE — A Washington state woman who regularly monitors police scanner traffic unknowingly live-tweeted about her husband's death in a freeway crash.

In a series of gut-wrenching tweets on Wednesday that grew more frantic, the Vancouver, Wash., mother first tweeted how horrible it was when she learned someone had died on Interstate 205 near the Oregon border.

Caran Johnson, who uses the handle @ScanCouver, then told her Twitter followers that she was trying not to panic because her husband, who drives the freeway, wasn't picking up his phone and was late getting home.

“i'm a basketcase,” she tweeted.

Johnson also worried because her husband had epilepsy and was feeling faint when he left work early. She wondered whether he might have pulled over somewhere and fretted about how long she should wait for him before calling police.

As the events unfolded, she messaged Washington State Patrol spokesman Will Finn directly, asking whether he had descriptions of the vehicles involved in the collision. Finn said he didn't, but it struck him as odd so he began looking into the crash.

“I contacted the investigator and we put two and two together. I realized I had a situation on my hands,” Finn said.

Troopers later went to Johnson's home to tell her that her husband, 47-year-old Craig Johnson, had died.

Caran Johnson then tweeted: “it's him. he died.”

“It hits very close to home,” said Abbi Russell, a Washington Transportation Department spokeswoman who is familiar with tweets from @ScanCouver. “Yes, it is social media, but it is a community of its own.”

Finn said Craig Johnson's car crossed the median about 2 p.m. Wednesday and collided with another car on I-205 about 5 miles north of Portland, Ore. The other driver, Carol S. Shelley, 54, of Tacoma, suffered serious injuries and was taken to a hospital with broken bones and internal injuries, authorities said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.