Teen faces charges after car lands in river

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Kathleen Foody
Thursday, July 16, 2009
— An 18-year-old Janesville man faces a drunken driving charge after crashing his car into the Rock River and fleeing the scene Wednesday night.

Cody L. Johnston of 110 S. Ringold St. was picked up in the area of Forest Park and east Van Buren while running from officers, said Sgt. Chad Pearson of the Janesville Police Department.

Johnston was charged with open intoxicants by a driver, drunken driving, causing bodily harm, operating a vehicle without a driver's license and hit and run causing injury.

Two passengers in the car, a minor boy and a 20-year-old man, were also charged with underage drinking.

A third passenger, also a minor, was transported to Mercy Hospital, Janesville, complaining of neck and back pain. That passenger's condition was unavailable Wednesday night.

Pearson said witnesses told police Johnston was driving recklessly in the area and broke through barricades on the edge of the bridge while driving west on Racine Street. The 1994 Chevy Caprice also hit a streetlight as it entered the river, breaking it. The car's windshield was heavily damaged and the front of the car was dented in a 'v' shape, Pearson said.

Live wires prevented police from removing the car until the city's public works department shut off power to the area. Pearson said no residences or businesses lost power.

The three passengers were out of the vehicle when police and fire officials arrived, Janesville Fire Captain Jody Stowers said.

A resident of Marshall Apartments, 408 S. Main St., said she heard the crash and came outside to see if there was anything she could do. The woman asked not to be named in print.

When she walked outside one of the male passengers was using the fallen streetlight to climb out of the water. A girl who appeared to have climbed out of the water looked "pretty cut up," she said.

Pedestrians gathered on both sides of the river. Police blocked off Racine Street between Main and River streets. Officers also wrapped caution tape along the banks of the river to keep onlookers back.

The city's public works department plans to put up temporary barricades where the car broke through the railing, Stower said. The street was reopened to traffic late Wednesday night.

Last updated: 10:56 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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