Ga. high school football player killed by hit-and-run driver while trying to rescue dog, police say

VALDOSTA — Police say a Georgia teen was hit and killed in a hit-and-run after he tried to rescue a dog that had also been hit.

Valdosta Police said the incident happened on Dec. 9 on Inner Perimeter Road in Valdosta around 6:15 p.m. Police said 16-year-old Samuel Johnson Jr. saw a dog that had been hit by a vehicle in the road and went to try to help it. While trying to rescue the dog, Johnson was hit and killed by a second vehicle. The vehicle that hit the teen did not stop.

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“Another citizen traveling through the area stopped when she saw a deceased dog in the roadway,” police said. “While checking on the dog, she observed Johnson laying in the grass median, along with an additional injured dog. She immediately called E911.”

Investigators determined that the vehicle that hit Johnson was a dark in color Dodge Charger that likely has damage to the driver’s side front bumper. It was last seen traveling in the area of Inner Perimeter Road and North Forrest Street Extension.


“We are asking for the public’s assistance in locating this vehicle and offender. It is unexplainable the callousness and disregard for human life that this offender has shown, by hitting this teenage victim and leaving him. My heart breaks for the family and friends of Mr. Johnson, who deserve answers as to why this happened to their loved one. If you know something, please say something. Our officers and detectives will not stop until they hold this offender accountable.” Said Chief Leslie Manahan.

Johnson was an offensive linebacker on the Valdosta Wildcats football team, according to the school roster.

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The team released a statement on social media, writing:

“We are heartbroken and devastated by this tragic loss. He was an amazing young man who was taken from us way too soon.”

Johnson is the second Georgia high school football player to die over the weekend. Brandon Smith, who played for Manchester High School in Meriwether County, was found dead Sunday. It’s unclear how the 17-year-old died. His team is set to play in the Georgia High School Football Championships on Monday night.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Valdosta Police Department Bureau of Investigative Services at 229-293-3145, the crime tip line at 229-293-3091, or file a tip online at www.valdostacity.com/police-department.