Volunteer firefighter faces homicide charges in fatal Minn. crash

Michael Allen Johnson was operating a fire truck Saturday when it veered off the road, killing two firefighters

By Erin Adler
Star Tribune

BLAINE, Minn. — The driver of a firetruck that crashed Saturday on Interstate 35W in Blaine, killing two firefighters, has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide for his role in the incident.

Michael Allen Johnson, 28, was among nine Baraga, Mich., firefighters going to help fight the Box Canyon wildfire in Utah when the truck "left the roadway for an unknown reason, struck the median cable barriers, and rolled" at 3:08 p.m., according to the State Patrol's statement. The crash closed the freeway near 95th Avenue for the afternoon.

Michael Allen Johnson. (Photo/Anoka County Jail)
Michael Allen Johnson. (Photo/Anoka County Jail)

Alan Swartz, 25, and James Shelifoe, 23, were killed. The status of the other passengers has not been released, but they were taken to various Twin Cities hospitals.

Johnson was wearing his seat belt, according to the State Patrol. Whether alcohol was in his system isn't known. He is held in Anoka County jail.

The passengers were members of the Beartown Firefighters, a crew that specializes in fighting wildfires and is jointly managed by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

A statement posted by Keweenaw Bay Saturday said, "Our hearts are broken and our prayers are with the family members and those injured."

Copyright 2016 the Star Tribune

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