Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man who killed school crossing guard in crash sentenced to 18 years

LARGO — Norm Runkles remembers swinging by Douglas Carey's crossing guard post and seeing the 70-year-old smile. During his breaks, Carey met his wife at a nearby parking lot to talk about their days.

"I watched that go on and I thought that was really special," said Runkles, a crossing guard supervisor at the Clearwater Police Department. "She just doesn't get to do that anymore."

Three years ago, a speeding Cadillac that ran a red light on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard struck Carey and ended his life.

Runkles watched in a Pinellas courtroom Tuesday as the driver, Julious Johnson, 31, pleaded guilty to the fatal crash and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Runkles sat next to Carey's wife, Jean, and her daughter, Toni. Assistant State Attorney Doneene Loar read the Carey family's statement.

"This has left us with a hole in our hearts that can never be filled," read the statement, directed to Pinellas Circuit Judge William Burgess III. "Nothing can bring our husband, father, grandfather back, but you can honor a man who spent his life helping others by ensuring Mr. Johnson doesn't hurt anyone else."

Runkles stood in court, unfolded a typed letter, and read his statement.

"I get to see Doug only when I pass by his picture," he said, his voice shaking. Carey's family and friends, Runkles added, remember him through photos and a gathering they have every year on the anniversary of his death.

On May 20, 2014, Carey, a retired Clearwater police officer, was getting ready to escort children across the busy intersection at Belcher Road when a Cadillac speeding at 70 mph on Gulf-to-Bay ran a red light. A Honda with the right of way was making a left and collided with Johnson's Cadillac, spinning his car into the direction of Carey, who was standing at the northwest corner of the intersection. He died at the scene.

Johnson ran away from the wreckage, leaving his injured daughters, ages 2 and 4, behind in the car. In his interview with detectives, he admitted to driving the car.

He pleaded guilty to charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death, vehicular homicide, driving with a revoked license, two counts of child neglect, felonious possession of a firearm and tampering with physical evidence. He also received time served for charges of resisting officers without violence and possession of marijuana.

If he had gone to trial, scheduled for Aug. 29, Johnson faced up to 60 years in prison.

"I think everyone feels that it's fair," Runkles said of the sentence, not just for Carey's family, but for Johnson as well.

When Burgess asked Johnson if he was satisfied with his attorney, Johnson spoke briefly, saying that he felt everyone looked at him as a "bad guy."

"I feel sorry," he said, but added, "I feel like I'm coming to court and y'all looking at me like I wanted to kill this man. . . . I didn't want nothing of this."

After the hearing, Johnson's attorney, Kelly McCabe, called Carey's death a tragedy. Johnson, she said, didn't know he had struck Carey, or that he was dead.

"There were no winners in this," she said.

Outside the courthouse, Runkles said it took him two years to write his statement.

"I thought about it every day," he said. "So today is closure."

Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] Follow @lauracmorel.

Man who killed school crossing guard in crash sentenced to 18 years 08/08/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 8, 2017 9:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. It's time for the Dodgers to be back in the World Series


    It’s hard to believe that it’s been 29 years since the Los Angeles Dodgers made the World Series. That’s far too long. I still remember being at Chavez Ravine for the 1988 World Series, watching Kirk Gibson homer into the right field stands to beat the Oakland A’s in Game 1.

    Been a long …

    The Los Angeles Dodgers congratulate each other after beating the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series
  2. Nikita Kucherov's start something to see


    Yes, the Lightning lost in a shootout at New Jersey on Tuesday night, blowing a 4-3 lead late in the game.

    Nikita Kucherov is on quite a roll
  3. Nebraska man accused of helping Florida girlfriend kill self said he thought she had terminal cancer

    Human Interest

    LINCOLN, Neb. -- Investigators say a Nebraska man facing an assisted suicide charge in his Florida girlfriend's death believed she had stage-four cancer, but an autopsy didn't find any tumors.

    Matthew J. Stubbendieck, of Weeping Water, Neb., faces an assisted suicide charge after authorities say he helped his girlfriend, Alicia Wilemon-Sullivan of Orange City, Florida., kill herself in the woods near Weeping Water in early August. [Case County (Neb.) Jail via AP]
  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers Jr. knows this stage - and this feeling


    He has been on this stage before, two postseasons ago.

    And he knows this feeling, too.

    Houston Astros pitcher acknowledges the crowd as he leaves Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium
  5. Agreement means Spectrum won't lose Viacom programming


    Less than a week after disputes between two cable industry conglomerates became public, the two companies have reached an agreement.

    Viacom and Charter Communications released a joint statement that the companies reached an agreement in principle. Charter also markets itself as Spectrum. [AP file photo]