Girlfriend runs over, kills Danbury Twp. man

DANBURY TWP. A Danbury Township man died Sunday morning after he was struck by a car driven by an on
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

DANBURY TWP.

A Danbury Township man died Sunday morning after he was struck by a car driven by an on-again, off-again girlfriend, Danbury police and the man's family said.

Police say Edward Johnson Jr., 40, was run over at about 1:34 a.m. by a red Chevrolet Cavalier driven by his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend in the parking lot of Island View Manor Apartments, where he lived and the woman occasionally stayed.

Johnson was pronounced dead shortly after the incident by a LifeFlight doctor at Mazurik Access Wildlife Area, Danbury police Det. Mark Meisler said.

The woman and a 28-year-old man who was in the car when it struck Johnson fled the scene after the incident, Meisler said. Danbury police Chief Michael Meisler said both are cooperating fully with the investigation. They are not being named because they had not been arrested or charged as of Monday evening.

The man -- from Kansas but living in Sandusky -- called police from a pay phone in Florence Township at about 5:30 a.m., several hours after the incident.

In a recorded call to 911, he told Erie County sheriff's dispatchers the woman dropped him off at Ohio 61 and 113 in Berlin Heights after the incident, and he walked for miles to find the pay phone.

"The one who perpetrated the accident took off and made me get out of the car," the man told dispatchers.

He was picked up by an Erie County Sheriff's deputy and handed over to Danbury police, Erie County Sheriff's Capt. Paul Sigsworth said.

The woman, meanwhile, turned herself over to Oberlin police at 4:15 p.m. Sunday, more than 12 hours after the incident. She was also handed over to Danbury police, Meisler said.

Troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol were at the apartment complex Monday working on an accident reconstruction while a state patrol plane flew overhead, snapping aerial photos of the parking lot.

Chief Meisler said police are trying to determine if the woman was acting in self defense or if the collision was intentional.

Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan said it's likely the case will be presented to a grand jury, though he also said it's critical for detectives to find out if the woman was reacting to a hostile situation.

In the call to 911, the woman's passenger told dispatchers that Johnson had been "getting violent" with the woman.

"The man actually jumped in front of the car," the passenger said in the call to police. "He was beating on her and she tried to speed away. He jumped in front of the car."

But residents at the apartment complex offered a different story.

"(Police) said they aren't even sure if they have an accident scene or not," said Robert Dickey, 18, who lives at Island View Manor with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Ashley Gribble. "We know it wasn't an accident."

Dickey said he and Gribble were sitting on their back porch Sunday morning -- about 20 feet from the scene, behind a small fence -- when they heard Johnson, the woman and the man arguing for at least 30 minutes.

Dickey said he thought nothing of it until the arguing stopped abruptly, followed by the sound of squealing tires, a revving motor and a loud thud.

Dickey said he looked up as the car was going in reverse, running over Johnson a second time.

"They were coming up like they were attempting to hit him, not like they were trying to miss him," Dickey said. "I stood up and they seen me, and they sped out of there real quick."

Dickey said he and Gribble rushed to Johnson, who was suffering from massive injuries to his head.

"He had a lot of blood coming out of his head, his ears, his eyes, his mouth," Dickey said. "It wasn't no 5 miles per hour when they hit him."

Johnson's family members said he met the woman, an Indiana resident, four months ago on the Internet. She'd been staying with him sporadically.

"They had a history of trouble," said Kevin Johnson, his younger brother. "I saw it with my own eyes, their interactions. It was a turbulent relationship -- bickering, arguing, financial problems."

Johnson had an artistic spirit and was involved in the area's underground music scene, Kevin said.

Johnson's daughter, Ashley George, 19, said her father described his girlfriend as "him in the female form."

"They were very much alike," George said. "What their likes were, like music, and their lifestyle."

"He loved people," said Anna Goad, Johnson's mother, from Perrysburg. "But he said it was a very difficult relationship, that it would be sky-high one minute and low the next."