Man convicted of killing boy in DUI crash doesn’t believe alcohol was only factor

Nov 8, 2022, 4:55 PM | Updated: Nov 18, 2022, 5:40 pm

New Utah prison...

After reports of more than 20 assaults on corrections officers since the new prison opened, the Utah Department of Corrections says it is seeing a turnaround in hiring and retention of corrections officers. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

UTAH STATE PRISON — Carl “CJ” Wayne Johnson doesn’t deny he hit and killed a 4-year-old boy in a crosswalk in 2019 while driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit.

But the Salt Lake man doesn’t believe alcohol was the only factor in the tragic incident.

“I kind of maintain I was not drunk, I was not stumbling drunk,” Johnson, 59, told the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole on Tuesday. “My vision was (obstructed) as I went into that intersection.

“It was simply an accident. It was my fault. It was a car accident and it was my fault. … I’m really sorry about what happened,” he added. “It was just negligence on my part, I guess.”

However, Marshall Thompson, the board’s vice chairman who conducted Tuesday’s hearing, told Johnson that what happened was no accident.

“You chose to drink, you chose to drive,” Thompson said.

Brett Curtis, the father of Holden Curtis, agreed.

“He made a choice that day to drink and drive. He could have said no. We could all say no,” he told the board emotionally.

On Nov. 16, 2019, Holden and his mother, Ashlee Loscher, were in crosswalk at the intersection of 900 W. California Ave. when they were hit by a GMC truck driven by Johnson. Holden was killed. Loscher suffered a broken femur.

“The truck continued to drive as the little boy’s bike was wrapped underneath the truck,” charging documents state.

On March 13, 2020, Johnson was convicted of automobile homicide and sentenced to a term of one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison. On Tuesday, he went before the board of pardons seeking parole.

Johnson showed little emotion during the hearing. Thompson noted that he had not had any disciplinary violations since being incarcerated. But what concerned Thompson is that Johnson’s most recent risk assessment evaluation was up, in part because evaluators believe his susceptibility to drinking alcohol if he were to be released is still high, as well as his bad attitude toward his situation.

Furthermore, Johnson is expected to complete a substance abuse program before he will be released from prison. But twice he has started the program and did not finish it, Thompson noted Tuesday. Johnson contends it was because of COVID-19 related issues.

“My respiratory problems are a lot worse than they’ve ever been,” he told the board. “I’m in pretty bad shape as far as that goes.”

Johnson also maintained several times during the hearing that drinking “was a factor but not the only factor” in the crash and that the sun reflecting off a nearby building got in his eyes. And despite being convicted of DUI in 1988 and 1989, and pleading guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving in 1999 that was originally filed as a DUI, he said he does not believe he had a drinking problem.

“I feel pretty good about where I’m at. I want to start over and live sober and that’s what my plan is,” he told the broad. “I’m planning on living sober. I’ve put a lot of thought into it. I think I’m done with that.”

Brett Curtis, however, doesn’t believe Johnson.

“I think he is only saying things he wants you to hear,” he told the board.

Curtis said he had driven through that intersection thousands of times and “never, not once, ever had the sun glaring me in the eyes.”

He also said he doesn’t like reliving that tragic day, but he needed to address the board on Tuesday for his son.

“I have never, nor will I ever, go back to that intersection because of that day,” he told Thompson. “I think (Johnson) needs to be punished, and I’m sorry but that’s how I feel.”

He ended his comments by emotionally saying, “Man, I miss Holden! Man, I miss him every single day!”

When asked if he wanted to respond to Curtis’ comments, Johnson said, “I’m very sorry and I do know what it’s like to lose a child. … It leaves a space in your life that will never be filled and I would not wish that on anybody, and I’m very, very sorry.”

Johnson said he’s been “reflective” while incarcerated about what happened and believes he has “a pretty good plan going forward.”

But Thompson said he believes the risk assessment score given to Johnson is “spot on.”

“You do have a bit of a bad attitude on things,” he told Johnson while adding that needs to change before he is released.

The full five-member board will now vote on whether to grant parole, a decision that could take up to a month.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

A traveler walks past a baggage carousel at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City ...

Josh Ellis

3 charged with stealing luggage from Salt Lake City airport

Three Salt Lake County residents have been charged with stealing baggage from baggage carousels at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

12 minutes ago

Sen. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, sponsor of SB31, State Flag Amendments, poses for a photo with the n...

Olivia Calvert, KSL NewsRadio

One group would like to see if Utah voters want to keep the new flag

Since the narrow passing of Senate Bill 31 in March of this year, many Utahns have embraced the new flag. Opponents, however, have been working overtime to reverse this change.

2 hours ago

The Church Office Building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pictured during th...

Tad Walch, Deseret News

Church responds to AP story detailing 2015 Idaho abuse case

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded Sunday night to an Associated Press story that detailed allegations about a former church member who allegedly sexually abused his daughter.

2 hours ago

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, announced on Monday that he is running for governor....

Josh Ellis

Democrat Rep. Brian King announces run for governor

Democrat and Utah House Minority Leader Brian King has announced he is running for governor of Utah.

3 hours ago

The Salt Lake Chinese Choir brings people together from Provo to Ogden, but their influence reaches...

Erin Cox

First Chinese choir in Utah uses music to break cultural barriers

The Salt Lake Chinese Choir brings people together from Provo to Ogden, but their influence reaches farther than that. 

13 hours ago

Skiers on the lift at Snowbird on Sunday before it closed for the day. (KSL TV)...

Brianna Chavez

Avalanche risk high in northern Utah, winter storm delays some ski resorts

A weekend winter storm that brought heavy snow to the mountains along the Wasatch Front also led to high avalanche risk warnings across northern Utah.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Man convicted of killing boy in DUI crash doesn’t believe alcohol was only factor