Police: Suspect in Brookshire fatal crash was on drugs

Steven Ray Johnson


by CAMERON STEELE & STEVE LYTTLE / Charlotte Observer


Posted on February 22, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 10:41 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Leslie John Dahm, 66, was driving home from work Wednesday night when an SUV driven by a man under the influence of drugs slammed into his truck, according to police and Dahm’s wife.

Dahm’s truck was barely moving at the time of the collision. Police said the light had just turned green at the Brookshire Boulevard intersection over Interstate 85 when a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban driven by Steven Ray Johnson overran Dahm’s truck.

Dahm, a Matthews resident, was killed instantly.  Friday Dahm's daughter spoke with NBC Charlotte.

"He sure took something precious from me…," said Judy Dahm, "I had a lot of good years left with him and just to have someone out of the blue, have no respect for anything. I hope someday he realizes what he has done, because if he has any conscious at all, he will be sorry for what he did," said Judy.

Johnson, a 36-year-old Charlotte resident, admitted to being high and said he had fallen asleep at the wheel when the crash occurred, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Sgt. David Sloan.

Just 18 hours earlier, police had arrested Johnson on a drug paraphernalia charge. But records show he had been released from jail.

After the wreck, detectives found drugs and paraphernalia in his car, Sloan said.

Johnson has been charged with DWI, and police have obtained warrants against him for involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, and driving with a revoked license.

Dahm’s wife, 66-year-old Judy Dahm, said her husband worked at Boston Gear in Charlotte, a company that manufactures transmissions and gears. He was nearing retirement, his wife said.

“He worked hard, and he was looking forward to retiring,” Judy Dahm said. “But now I am sitting here planning his funeral.”

The Dahms had been married for 27 years.

Reached Wednesday, a relative of Johnson’s declined to be interviewed.

DWI task force envisioned

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police investigated about 15 fatal crashes caused by DWIs in 2012, Sloan said. More than 1,100 accidents last year in Mecklenburg County were alcohol-related.

The numbers have Sloan, who oversees the police department’s Major Crash Unit, hoping to create a special DWI task force with six specialized officers.

“Ninety-nine percent of their time would be focused on doing DWI patrol at night,” Sloan said.

He said he and several of his detectives arrived on the scene within minutes of the fatal wreck on Brookshire.

The impact sent Dahm’s 1999 GMC Jimmy sliding about 400 feet until it slammed into a metal overhead sign. Meanwhile, investigators said, Johnson’s vehicle continued, smashing head-on into a 2006 Ford Fusion driven by 19-year-old Bianca Gibson – then struck a 1997 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by 39-year-old Blossom Green.

Gibson was injured and taken by Medic to Carolinas Medical Center. She is expected to survive. Green was treated by Medic at the scene but did not need hospitalization.

Johnson was taken to Presbyterian Hospital. He’ll be charged and booked into the Mecklenburg County jail after his release, police said. Court records show Johnson was charged with reckless driving in 2007. The case was settled in February 2008 with a prayer for judgment.

Detectives are still investigating the crash. Judy Dahm said she is still in shock.

“I wish I had been in the car because I’d be with him,” she said. “I wouldn’t be sitting here.”