SPRINGFIELD — The driver of an SUV that crashed on a southwest Missouri highway in December, killing two Missouri Southern football players, has been charged with two counts of manslaughter.
Jeremy Johnson, 20, pleaded not guilty in Jasper County court Monday to two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Diondre Johnson and Michael McCrimmons, both 19, The Springfield News-Leader reported. His bond was reduced to $1,500, with the consent of prosecutors, and his next court date was set for Aug. 16.
Prosecutors say Jeremy Johnson was driving drunk and speeding and lost control of the vehicle, which rolled and collided with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 44 east of Sarcoxie. Diondre Johnson was thrown from the SUV and McCrimmons was killed in the crash. Another passenger was injured.
Jeremy Johnson was struck by a passing car while moving away from the wreckage and has had several surgeries and still needs a wheelchair, according to his lawyer, Tyson Martin.
Martin told The Associated Press on Wednesday that everyone in the car that night was served alcohol at a Springfield nightclub before the crash. They were all under 21.
"This case is worth following because of what was going on before the boys were in accident," Martin said. "That casts a different light on situation. It has less to do with all the boys in the car and this accident shouldn't have happened at all. Sadly, we see way too many of these."
Diondre Johnson's mother, Dionna Johnson, said Jeremy Johnson was her son's friend. He faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty.
"I don't want to see anyone else go through what I've been through. He needs to be an example — to let other kids know if you wanna drink and you wanna drive these are the consequences you have to face," she said.