Three state troopers on motorcycles were injured Thursday in a crash on the Kilpatrick Turnpike in Oklahoma City during a procession for fallen Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson.
The three troopers — Ron Watson, a 30-year veteran of the Highway Patrol; Rocky Barnes, a 22-year veteran; and Steve Eason, who had been with the patrol 18 years — were taken to a hospital, but two of them were later released, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported. The agency did not say which of the three remained hospitalized, but it said he is expected to recover.
The crash occurred about 10:55 a.m. in the turnpike’s westbound lanes near the Broadway Extension.
The Highway Patrol issued a statement later, saying that “as the motorcade of law enforcement vehicles was traveling on the Kilpatrick Turnpike, a motorist driving westbound in an Infiniti QX80 observed the procession behind her and pulled to the right, stopping on the westbound shoulder so the procession could pass.”
Barnes was riding on the shoulder at the head of the motorcade, and his motorcycle struck the car’s left rear bumper and then went back into the westbound lanes, where it collided with other motorcycles.
The car’s driver had legally pulled onto the shoulder and stopped and did not violate any traffic laws, the OHP said.
Tulsa Police Officer Jeanne Pierce said the procession had made its way from Tulsa to Oklahoma City in relation to Johnson’s organ donations.
The Highway Patrol reported that Johnson’s body was being taken to LifeShare Transplant Donor Services of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin confirmed that no Tulsa police officers were injured in the crash. Bynum said the city’s thoughts and prayers were with the injured troopers.
Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement: “I ask Oklahomans to join the first lady and me in praying for the recovery of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers who were injured, for their families and for all those affected by this terrible accident.”
“It is always difficult to receive news of first responders being injured in the line of duty, but it is especially heartbreaking to learn this incident happened during the procession for an officer who was senselessly murdered while protecting his community.”
State House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, House Majority Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, and House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, released a joint statement after the accident, saying: “There are moments when the policy differences of this body are cast aside and we come together for a larger purpose. Today, the House stands united in support of the OHP and Tulsa Police Department communities. As these Troopers fight for their lives, we lift them up in prayer and hope to see a quick recovery from this awful tragedy.”
Johnson’s funeral, which is open to the public, is set for 1 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at Victory Church in Tulsa. Masks will be provided.
Gallery: Procession for Sgt. Craig Johnson travels through Tulsa on Wednesday