By Emily Weaver
Dunn Daily Record
HARNETT COUNTY – A three-vehicle wreck on Darroch Road Tuesday afternoon claimed the life of Harnett County Deputy Chris Johnson and sent two others to local hospitals with injuries.
Multiple sources confirmed the deputy’s identity hours after the officer’s patrol car collided with a semitruck on the narrow lanes in a curve near the road’s intersection with Powell Farm Road. A black SUV was also involved in the crash that occurred minutes before 3 p.m.
At least two people from the SUV were transported from the scene to local hospitals with injuries.
Johnson was a school resource officer at Highland Middle. His death sent a shockwave through the school district and the law enforcement community.
“Harnett County Schools is deeply saddened to hear about the death of Chris Johnson, a School Resource Officer at Highland Middle School,” Harnett County Schools released in a statement Tuesday. “We appreciate Deputy Johnson’s service to our students and staff. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time. Grief counselors are available at the school to speak with any student or faculty member affected by this news.”
Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats rushed to the scene of the wreck and left shortly after 4 p.m. to notify Johnson’s family.
“Deputy Sheriff Chris Johnson succumbed to his injuries on scene,” Major Aaron Meredith noted in a release from the sheriff’s office Tuesday night. “Deputy Johnson was 51 years old and was assigned as a school resource officer at Highland Middle School. He has served the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office honorably for 16 months. He has previously worked with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office for 16 years and the Dunn Police Department for 9 years. He was a professional law enforcement veteran who was well respected by his colleagues in the profession and in his community.
“Sheriff Coats asks that you pray for all the families involved in this tragedy,” Meredith continued. “As we mourn the untimely loss of Deputy Johnson, we recognize the impact he has had on the community where he lived but also the community in which he served. Please continue to pray for not only his family, but also those who he has impacted through his dedicated service to the Harnett County School System.”
Several patrol cars from the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies joined in a long procession with an ambulance that carried Johnson’s body to the morgue at Betsy Johnson Hospital Tuesday evening. Nearby agencies offered condolences as the word of his death spread.
Residents of Darroch Road sounded off on the traffic issues they’ve seen since a portion of N.C. Highway 27 was closed for a bridge replacement.
North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers are investigating the deadly collision.