State Drops Case Against Durham Man Involved in Fatal Crash

Prosecutors have dropped an OUI charge against Irving Johnston, who was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that hit and killed a local woman last December.


The state has dropped its case against a Durham man charged last year with driving under the influence following a crash along Route 17 that left a local woman dead.

The single count against Irving Johnson, 57, of 27 Boulder Court View, was dismissed due to insufficient evidence, according to court records.

On Dec. 7, 2011, police charged Johnson with driving under the influence after they say he struck 69-year-old Joan Leighton-Smith near the intersection of Parsons Lane and Route 17 in Durham.

According to a police report, Leighton-Smith had been attempting to cross the highway around 4:50 p.m. when she was hit by Johnson's pickup truck. She was taken to Middlesex Hospital where she died from her injuries.

The report further says Johnson observed Leighton-Smith crossing the highway and "leaned on his horn, braked and swerved" to avoid hitting her. Police also noted in the report that weather conditions "included a heavy, steady rain and dark skies."

According to court records, Johnson failed standard field sobriety tests but in a motion to dismiss the charge, his attorney argued that police did not consider Johnson's "physical condition which would render him incapable of performing certain standard field sobriety tests due to surgery he had undergone for a herniated disc."

Following his arrest, police conducted two tests to determine Johnson's blood alcohol content, the results of which were .05 and .04.

The state legal limit is .08.

In court records dated Dec. 30, 2011, prosecutors said they had probable cause to charge Johnston with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle but the charges were never filed.

nana of 5 September 20, 2012 at 10:38 PM
This is a damn shame!!!!!.A Mother,Sister,Aunt is killed and he goes free. Why were the charges never filed? When prosecutors said there was probable cause to charge him. This really stinks..sorry vette that there is no justice for your Mom.
Edward Heath March 21, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Hello Yvette; This is Edward H. from Madison. I was good friends with you and Ann T. here in Durham and have a Sister Elizabeth whom you have met several times; I was thinking about you and Googled your name and found out about this travesty of your Mother; I am so sorry :-( Feel free to call my folks house here in Madison if you want to talk to me. I hope that you get this message. Sincerely; Edward H.


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