Investigators: Harlan woman killed in I-80 crash Jan. 13th near Avoca, was texting


January 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Harlan woman who died January 13th when her vehicle crossed the median of Interstate 80 and was hit broadside by a semi near Avoca, was apparently texting her boyfriend just moments before the crash. Investigators with the Iowa State Patrol say texting and driving was likely the major contributing factor in a crash that killed 22-year-old Nikki Johnston.

The woman’s family told authorities she had texted her boyfriend at 12:53 p.m., asking him what she wore on their first date. Minutes later, her boyfriend texted her a picture from their first date. Johnston received that text at the same time as the first 911 call from the scene of the crash near Avoca. That call came from the driver of a vehicle which was directly behind Johnston.

Investigators said Johnston lost control of her car and went through a grass median before a semi-truck heading east broadsided her at about 70 mph.Johnston died on impact. Family members said she was on her way to work at Tac Air in Omaha at the time of the crash.Her phone was found intact.Investigators said they conducted several tests and ruled out a mechanical malfunction as an explanation for the crash. They said texting was likely the major contributing factor.

Johnston’s family told Omaha television station KETV, they don’t want to believe texting caused the crash that killed their oldest daughter, and they think there’s more to the crash than distracted driving.